October 01, 2012
With the launch of Messenger 2.0 for iOS, Facebook has revealed a number of improved graphical user interface design updates to the app. These changes promote a more SMS-like style of instant messaging that is similar yet distinctly different from iOS's native Messages app, and implement swipe navigation and speed improvements to the application.
Available on the AppStore and iTunes website as of late September, Facebook Messenger 2.0 features a friends list that users simply swipe to the left to access, a "favorites" list of frequently messaged friends and a new GUI design for conversations. However, the most important change may be the switch to a faster and more reliable interface.
One of the most heavily criticized parts of Facebook's mobile apps is their instability, with frequent crashes and slow loading times. In July, the company announced the acquisition of design company Acrylic, and with it, coming improvements to its own mobile apps. These improvements include a switch from a purely HTML5 application design to native development with integration of HTML5 elements. The update of Messenger 2.0's speed and stability shows the path the company is taking, and the progress it is making along the way.
According to TechCrunch, the improvement of the conversation interface is also very important for the new Messenger app. The previous version looked much like an email inbox and was difficult to navigate and generally painful to use. However, with the shift to a more SMS- or instant messaging-style design, the app is much more intuitive. This also makes group chat easier to manage.
The updates also include support for iOS 6, as well as the iPhone 5's larger display and improved hardware. However, TechCrunch points out that the app is sorely missing integration with the iOS SMS Messages app. According to the news source, the Android version of the app allows users to use Facebook Messenger 2.0 instead of the default texting app, giving users one resource rather than two for text communication. The Android version launched a week earlier than the iOS edition.
With improved usability and simplified navigation, the iOS edition of Messenger 2.0 shows Facebook's commitment to improving its mobile experience - something that has been sorely missing from the company since the introduction of its first app for the iPhone. This new direction should allow the company to improve the overall user experience as well as its position against competitors like Twitter and the soon-to-be revamped Myspace.