A few weeks ago, a few phone owners poking around on Facebook were fed an alert that said, pretty soon, you would not be able to send messages from inside Facebook's app. To do so, they'd need to download a separate app, Messenger.
Annoying? For some people, yes, undoubtedly. Now it appears that Facebook is forcing users over to Messenger for real. TechCrunch is reporting that iPhone and Android owners will have to download Messenger separately "over the next few days"; Windows Phone, iPad, and web users are safe, at least for now.
Facebook claims a trial run was successful in Europe. Messenger made people reply to messages "about 20% faster," so now as Zuckerbergian logic dictates, Messenger-required messaging will now roll out for everyone.
After the spectacular failure that was Facebook Home, the social network's strategy to conquer your phone's home screen with standalone apps—either through acquisitions like WhatsApp or from in-house builds—has been a mixed bag. And that's putting things lightly: Slingshot, Facebook's second Snapchat clone, was confusing and forgettable. Other reports suggested that Facebook Paper, which is beautiful and well-designed by any standard, failed to catch on with users.
But strong-arming users over to Messenger in order to take advantage of a service that was already available inside the main app is unusually aggressive—even for a company like Facebook, which knows a thing or 12 about aggravating users with sudden overhauls to its core service.
What do you think? Do you send messages via Facebook? Are you okay with switching over to Messenger? Don't care? Let us know.
Update 3:12 p.m. ET: Facebook just sent out an alert to users in an email. Here it is in full:
We wanted to let you know that messages are moving out of the Facebook app to our Messenger app, a free app that's faster and more reliable for everyday messaging. Messenger also includes: new ways to send photos and videos, voice calls, stickers, group conversations and more.
Soon, we'll start guiding you to get started with Messenger. After a few days, you'll also see a reminder notice in the Facebook app, where you'd normally see your messages. At that point, we'll ask you to install Messenger or go to the Facebook website to view and send messages. You'll still see new message notifications in the Facebook app, and it'll be easy to switch between Facebook and Messenger.
We appreciate your taking the time to install Messenger and know it will take a little while to adjust to using a second app. We look forward to sharing this fast, fun and reliable way of messaging with you. You can learn more here.