Facebook Messenger is apparently in for some exciting changes, and so-called "Secret Conversations" is one of them.
We have all sorts of messaging apps these days, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Facebook Messenger is among the most popular ones, but competition is constantly heating up and new features are essential to stand out from the crowd.
In addition to the purported payment feature rumored to launch soon, Facebook Messenger is reportedly getting an intriguing Secret Conversations feature as well.
The name itself, be it final or not, sounds reminiscent of Snapchat's ephemeral messaging system. Self-destructing chat is what made Snapchat stand out and it proved to be widely popular among consumers. Ephemeral messages disappear a short while after they're read and may just be the next big thing in messaging.
Facebook could be looking to implement a similar experience with its Secret Conversations, albeit no specific details are available at this point.
At the same time, if it's not a Snapchat-like trick, this Secret Conversations feature could refer to some extra-heavy encryption to keep your conversations safe and private, away from prying eyes.
Heavier encryption would make sense in the aftermath of the whole FBI iPhone unlock debacle, which pitted Apple and the government against each other over encryption.
Heavyweight technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others sided with Apple in the encryption war, countering the government's push for weaker encryption.
With this in mind, Secret Conversations in Facebook Messenger could denote plans to make some conversations tougher to decrypt.
Alternately, the feature could also refer to something simpler and with smaller implications, such as keeping some conversations hidden from prying eyes nearby, not just from the government.
This could allow users to encrypt some conversations they want to keep only to themselves, perhaps by password-protecting certain chats. Non-secret conversations could remain as they normally are, meaning that anyone could read them as long as they have access to your Facebook account.
News of the new payment feature and Secret Conversations comes from The Information (subscription), which spotted the changes in the code of the iOS version of Facebook Messenger.
It remains unclear at this point just when the new features will go into effect and how exactly they will unfold, but they could help Facebook Messenger get some heavy traction and better compete against rivals.