Facebook Messenger became a standalone app in 2014. Before that messaging functions were featured in the Facebook app, but now Messenger users don’t even have to be registered on Facebook. When authorizing at the first launch, you may enter your Facebook entry data or just your phone number. You can as well create a new Facebook account straight from the start screen (it will redirect you to Facebook registration page).
Of course, Facebook Messenger doesn’t require a phone number (unless you use it for Facebook authentication) and works quite fine on devices with no SIM slot.
After you have authorized your app, you can set notifications (turn them on or off). If you change your mind later you can always turn notifications on or off in app’s Settings.
The contacts are integrated with your phone book in a very advanced way. You can use your Facebook friends’ contacts only. They become available in People tab when you launch the device. But you can as well let the app scan your phone book and find people from your phone contacts you may not have added on Facebook for some reason. You don’t have to wait until they approve on your requests, you can communicate directly.
And don’t get surprised when suddenly there are new phone numbers in your phone book. The numbers of Facebook users (unless they keep their phone numbers hidden) are automatically added to your contacts as they sync.
You can see which of your friends is active on Facebook now and who is off at the moment. The messages you send are displayed with special signs when they are sent, delivered or read.
It’s not even worth mentioning that texting within Facebook is free and unlimited. You can add photos (both from Facebook galleries and from outer sources, besides you can upload photos from your local memory), voice messages, external links with page previews, your current location or any other point on the map. By the way, you can attach your location to any message by default, so the receiver can see exactly where you are.
Emoticons, stickers and Emoji are available in special sections. You can add emotions to your conversation. And even more, there are special apps you can download directly from Facebook Messenger to make your communication brighter. There are emoji sets, stickers, picture editors and filters, drawing apps and even exotic apps that can speak or sing your messages! The full list is available from the app (a pictogram with three dots under input message field) and is worth its own review. Maybe these additional apps are the only paid things about Facebook Messenger.
Of course, there are group chats that support conferences you can create or join.
Cross-platform use 8/10
Messenger is adapted for iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices. The interface is elaborate. The screen space is used wisely. While the iPhone app looks like a phone book with SMS features, the iPad version has a lot of space to show more info. In iPhone, version screen can only show conversations list or current dialogue. The iPad version shows both simultaneously.
Unlike some other messengers, Facebook Messenger seamlessly integrates your previous and current chats. Even when you launch it for the first time on your mobile device, it shows all your history and the users you have chatted with recently. The app downloads the history as you scroll the screen.
The service supports multiple logins. You can use Facebook Messenger on several devices simultaneously. The notification on any event will arrive on all of them.
One of the most important features added recently is voice and video talks. The app promotes the features as “HD Voice” and “Video”. Even the regular 3G connection can provide excellent voice quality. Of course, all Facebook calls (including international) are free. There has been no delay, echo or sound distortion noticed when both sides have a good Internet connection. Of course, if you’re using a slow Internet there may be issues with sound transferring. But they’re not on Facebook.
There's nothing to pay for in Messenger for Android and iOS. However, things like video calls, especially international, are not supported worldwide yet. Country by country, this feature is activated gradually.
But if this feature works in your country it works excellently. Intelligent algorithms automatically adjust video quality so it fits your bandwidth to provide the best possible quality. Of course, you can send videos from devices with a front camera only (time to sigh for most iPod Touch users). But anyway, you can receive video from the other side.
The Bottom Line
All in all, Messenger is one of the best messaging services available. Its best feature is combining Facebook account and traditional messenger’s interface. It’s still strongly integrated with the main Facebook app, but these two apps are independent now and don’t require each other.