I’ve been petty rough on Facebook’s Android messaging in the past, but it looks like things may be about to change. Courtesy of the developers from group messaging app Beluga, which Facebook acquired in March, Facebook has released a new dedicated messaging app for Android and iOS today.
The app has more in common with Facebook’s Messages interface than with Chat. There’s no buddy list at all, and no indication of who is currently online. Facebook seems really hung up on that concept. Instead, you get a list of every conversation you’ve ever had on Facebook, which can be tough to navigate. You do get options to delete or archive old conversations, which should help.
If you create a new message, you can choose to send to Facebook Friends or your phone’s contacts. Messages sent to contacts are delivered as a standard text message. Group messaging is also supported.
To my enormous joy, notifications seem to work exactly as you’d expect. Alerts come in immediately by default, but you can turn them off either for one hour or until 8 AM the following day. You can change the alerts for individual conversations or the whole app.
There are a few other nice features, including the ability to send photos, attach your location to a message, and map the locations associated with conversations.
The new app should be live in both the Apple App Store and Android Market, but at least for Android, it’s a bit tough to find. I couldn’t find it at all on the web version of the Market, but if you search for pub:Facebook on your Android device, you should see Facebook Messenger.
Update: The app is now on the web version of the Market here.