Facebook has announced that it will be opening Messenger into a platform, allowing third-party developers to create "apps" for Messenger.
The news will allow developers to create tools for users to communicate in different ways with their friends, businesses and others.
The new platform could, in fact, completely change the way that we view messaging and communicating. Facebook is making an attempt at making Messenger the one-stop app for all communication.
One of the biggest changes that is headed to Messenger is the fact that users will soon be able to communicate with businesses. This is huge news for businesses, which might be looking for new ways to connect with their customers, and for customers who want to be able to more easily get in touch with the businesses that they pay. For example, a user could use Messenger to communicate with a store to tell them that they accidentally ordered the wrong item.
"I don't know anyone who likes calling businesses," said Mark Zuckerberg in a keynote speech at the Facebook F8 developer conference. "It's not fast and convenient, and it definitely doesn't feel like the future."
This is great for customers, but it's somewhat of a problem for the likes of Yelp, which largely operates as a way for customers and businesses to communicate. Of course, it also raises some concern because of the fact that it may open up an avenue of communication for businesses to spam users.
The real news, however, is not that businesses will be able to interact with customers, it's that developers will be able to create extensions and apps for Messenger. This opens it up to a whole new level of creativity and functionality. Currently, it seems as though many of the apps to be developed will be ways for users to create more feature-rich messages. For example, JibJab is an app that that allows users to create animated messages and is one of the first services that will be integrated into Messenger for those that want it.
Eventually, we could even see things like email support in Messenger, as well as the ability to make phone calls through the app, a feature that Facebook is considering, according to a recent leak.
The announcements clarify a lot about Facebook and how it has been treating Messenger. Last year, the company announced that users would no longer be able to message their friends through the standard Facebook app, essentially forcing users to download the separate Messenger app. Now, the app has a whopping 600 million users, putting it in prime position to be opened up for further functionality.
Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns | Flickr