Facebook has launched a new app dedicated to sending messages to other Facebook users, called Facebook Messenger. The app, available now for iOS and Android
, allows for not just standard text messages to be sent to Facebook friends, but picture sending as well, which will appear on whatever platform the message is sent on. The pictures can be sent to and from web users as well as users of the specific apps, but will not be sent to mobile numbers through the service's text message alerts, though. Location can also be appended to messages, and this is also viewable on the web, making it easier for users to organize get-togethers and to notify their friends of where they currently are. This app is a direct result of Facebook's purchase of group messaging service Beluga earlier in the year, as Beluga has confirmed that they worked on the Facebook Messenger app
Facebook's new Messenger app is designed to be platform agnostic. Messages can be pushed to users in three different ways: through traditional Facebook chat alerts and messages, through SMS alerts, and through push notifications to both the iPhone/iPod touch and Android apps, the latter joining the ranks of apps using Google's C2DM (cloud to device messaging) service. Notifications will be pushed to any devices logged in to Facebook Messenger, even if multiple devices are logged in at one time.
With Facebook accounts being so ubiquitous, and the built-in support for messaging all Facebook friends no matter where they're accessing Facebook or what mobile OS they are using, this app might supplant many people's texting plans. That would be the real threat - if Facebook could find a way to take on and take over one of the most ubiquitous messaging protocols. As well, the ability to bring together users on different platforms could be a threat to Apple's iMessage, with it being limited to iOS users. Facebook Messenger is now available for free from the App Store and Android Market.