Facebook Messenger has two new features for Android and iOS users in the United States: group chat polls and payment suggestions.
The features are rolling out now to U.S. users of the Facebook Messenger app, but could soon roll out globally to Android and iOS if the U.S. rollout proves successful.
Group Chat Polls
The first feature aims to make it easier for friends to decide on various things, whether it's voting on which movie to see, where to go out, or something more serious. To facilitate reaching a decision, Facebook Messenger will let friends vote through group chat polls.
"We look at this chat assist function with polls and payments as just another example of offering help to make Messenger users' lives easier — like offering a ride with Uber, for example," Facebook tells TechCrunch.
These group chat polls will allow users to ask a question, list multiple possible answers and send to all friends in a group chat, allowing them to vote. This way, one can easily see which answer or option is the most popular among their group of friends.
If this sounds fairly familiar, it's because it's basically the same Polls feature Facebook introduced back in 2007 but later removed. It's also similar to the Facebook Questions feature from 2010, which was later redesigned for quick polls and recommendations.
While that feature was eventually limited only to Groups and Events, it's now making its way to group chats. The new group chat polls are accessible from the More drawer or the message options bar on top of the composer.
Social apps such as Google+ and Twitter, among others, already offer polling options, and the features can prove really useful when trying to reach a decision or grasp the general opinion with regard to a specific topic or question.
Polling could prove even more useful for Facebook Messenger's more than one billion users, who often use the messaging app to organize get-togethers, reunions, events and so on.
Chat Assist For Payments
The other feature, meanwhile, taps machine learning to offer payment suggestions and remind you to pay back your friends. The feature basically scans your conversations and when it finds a clue of a debt, it will offer a payment button.
If it finds phrases such as "IOU," "You owe me $15 for lunch," "I owe you for that coffee" or something like that, Facebook Messenger will trigger a payment button so users can quickly pay off their debt. Users will be able to decide whether to hit that button and send the money they owe by the card connected to Messenger.
Integrating payments as a seamless part of Facebook Messenger conversations could make things even easier and keep people more on the app.
It remains to be seen whether these two new Facebook Messenger features will prove popular among users, but they definitely hold promise. Will you be using the group chat polls or the payment suggestions?