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Facebook Messenger: latest Android update brings group payment support

Facebook's Messenger app has slowly evolved out of Facebook chat into its own independent beast. We've got details below on new features that are being added to keep you up to date. The latest Facebook Messenger update is that the popular messaging app will now allow you send and receive group payments. 

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Group payment support 

Facebook Messenger had already given its users the ability to send and receive money though the person-to-person payments. The popular messaging app is taking things a step further and is now rolling out an update to its Messenger app, which will give users the ability to send and receive money between groups of people. 

To get started, open the Messenger app, open a group chat, then tap the plus sign button in the bottom left corner of the conversation. Find the payment icon ($), and then tap on it. After that, you can then choose who to send or request money from. You can easily select everyone in the group, or just a few members. Then enter the amount of money you’d like to send or request, specify what the money is for, then tap Request.

A message will then appear in the group conversation showing which of your friends have paid in - or who you're still owing money to. There’s also a handy Request Details option if you’d like to see more information on a particular payment.

Messenger tests end-to-end encryption

Messenger will soon have end-to-end encryption similar to that of WhatsApp, after Facebook announced it was testing the service. In a post published by its newsroom, details of the tests included one-to-one 'secret' conversations that can only be read on the devices they're sent between. These messages will be stored on the devices and not on Facebook's servers.

Another feature of secret conversations is its ability to set a timer that will automatically delete messages, a feature popularized by Snapchat. Facebook said that secret conversations will be an optional feature that can only be viewed on the device that received the message; this is a limitation of the encryption and the only way to ensure absolute privacy. A broader release is planned for sometime in late 2016.

FB messenger secret chat
A 'secret' conversation mode is coming to Messenger. / © FB newsroom

Integrated SMS messages

SMS messages are now being integrated into the Facebook Messenger app, Facebook announced on its website. Instead of using a separate messaging app, users now have the option of including these texts in the Messenger app. SMS messages will appear in purple while Facebook messages will appear in the traditional blue. In addition, SMS in messenger supports rich content such as stickers, emojis, GIFS and more.  

"We hope that this new choice will bring the convenience of being able to access all your messages in one place, making your messaging a lot simpler and helping you stay on top of your conversations," said Facebook. 

This feature isn't enabled by default, you must go to the settings menu in the Facebook Messenger app, tap SMS and then enable Default SMS app

Responding to why this feature wasn't in place on iOS, Facebook said, "iOS doesn't currently support app permissions for accessing text messages/SMS." Another win for Android. 

Facebook messenger sms
Read SMS in Facebook Messenger. / © Facebook

Group calling with Facebook Messenger

Facebook announced that you can now carry out group calls on Facebook Messenger. Within any group conversation, just press on the phone icon to initiate a group call. The service is currently equipped to handle up to 50 people, suggesting a clear line of sight on this being used in the workplace. No word yet on whether this feature will be expanded to provide a video service, but with the feature in the works for WhatsApp, it seems safe to assume it will arrive sooner or later.

A series of business-friendly updates are rolling out to Facebook Messenger over the next few weeks, the company announced, preparing the app for its dream of providing a cohesive way for businesses and their clients to communicate.

These changes amount to more visible page usernames, shortened Messenger links and Messenger codes (like QR codes) that open chats with a business, and preset Messenger greetings that appear when a chat window is opened.

androidpit facebook messenger business updates 1
The new additions to Facebook Messenger, centered on making it more business-friendly. / © Facebook

Facebook Messenger receives Material Design

Facebook Messenger has received Material Design, first introduced with Android Lollipop. This comes from a Tweet from David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger. 

The user experience will not be affected as this is a purely cosmetic update. The blue bars at the top of the screen have a cleaner look. There is more space in the app which gives it a roomier feel. There is a new blue plus button that will serve as a way to start a new conversation. You can see the new design below.

facebook messenger update
Facebook Messenger now comes with Google's Material Design. / © Facebook

New messaging features

Facebook has begun testing some very notable new additions to Facebook Messenger, the first in some time.

The first new feature follows closely in the footsteps of Messenger's photo-sharing sister, Instagram. Multiple account support means that your friends can use your phone to check their Facebook messages, and people who use the social networking platform for work purposes will be able to switch between professional and personal accounts with much greater ease.

The other big change is SMS integration. This feature appeared on the Messenger app in 2012 but was removed after about a year due to low user take-up. Well, now it's back, in a testing phase, at least.

androidpit multiple accounts 1
I'm in Germany and was fortunate enough to receive multiple account support. / © ANDROIDPIT

Facebook is testing these new features on an undisclosed number of devices, and there's no word on when or even whether we can expect to see a full roll out.

You can find out if you're one of the lucky ones by going to Settings > Accounts and seeing if there's a plus button at the top right of the screen that'll let you add extra accounts. If you've been gifted with SMS support, there should be an SMS option in the Settings menu.

Messenger without a Facebook account

You can now sign up for Messenger without a Facebook account. To do so, you simply have to tap the 'Not on Facebook?' option on the welcome screen. All you need to enter is your name and phone number and add a picture. The option opens up the world of Messenger to people who don't use Facebook, which seems like a sensible addition for Facebook to have made at this point in time.

The benefits of using the service with a Facebook account are still evident, however, as it allows instant access to all your Facebook friends and messages and it allows cross-device access. If you only have a Messenger account, the app works more like WhatsApp.

AndroidPIT Facebook Messenger login not on Facebook
Now those of you who aren't on Facebook can use Messenger. / © ANDROIDPIT
Messenger Install on Google Play

So, what do you think of the new Facebook Messenger? Tell us in the comments.

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30 comments

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  • i'm not getting my day update....please fix itasap

  • Mark
    • Mod
    1 month ago Link to comment

    FaceBook and my money. Not going to happen. FaceBook is the last company I would trust.

    • C'mon Mark. It's not your money Facebook is after. And even if that is true, surely you can spare a few bucks for your namesake. In actuality, ogre-like companies like Facebook are after our personal information, our identity, our privacy, and our independence. A much bigger deal than some money. I don't like the very look of Facebook Messenger, and it's eerie insistence that it's called just Messenger and not Facebook Messenger.

  • I cannot get a phone call in our out using messenger...I used to use it all the time to other messenger people and now it wont work..it rings once then drops out.

  • Alex P. 10 months ago Link to comment

    Hope facebook site follows the same

  • My android integrated my messages into FB messenger without asking my permission (so I've uninstalled FB from the phone)

  • Caryn L. 10 months ago Link to comment

    I absolutely ABHOR what Facebook has done as of late. Not only did they change their permissions and, unless you review them, you won't even know that they are now WORSE than the NSA! But this Messenger issue has rendered, at least for me, my phone VERY clumsy to use for Facebook. My FB says there are new messeges but I can't get to them, figure out who sent them. I do NOT think it's just my phone either. Facebook updated the app, which I've ALWAYS hated. I use it ONLY for convenience of photo posting and groups. Otherwise, I use my browser, Firefox, for Facebook and everything else. The permissions Facebook is now demanding are right over the top and FAR too invasive and COMPLETELY unneccesary and I do NOT accept them and have opted to remove the app from my phone entirely and just use my browser.

    Unfortunately, by doing this I can't conveniently post photos and videos easily like I could before but I'm VERY OPPOSED to them REQUIRING that I grant permissions to take photos, read all of my contacts AND the new permissions actually STATE that they will collect all of my information both in my profile and what I post and to whom I post to formulate a profile for me.

    I don't think it's too hard to figure out why I find this unacceptable. Zuckerberg HIMSELF doesn't find the permissions appropriate and has his camera lens covered. THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES!

  • My phone does not have google plah services anywhere on it. My phone is a galaxy sII. What do i do

  • *

  • Awesome, love the integration!

  • I usually don't find that the facebook app drains my battery all that much, and I don't get any notifications on my phone from it nor do I keep myself logged into it once I am done with it. I don't really even like facebook that much and I only have it because I honestly don't have many friends where I now live. But I don't like the idea of facebook messenger having access to my personal text messages. I feel like they know enough of my business as it is. And they let the government have access to your information if it seems important to them in some way. I don't trust facebook at all and I will get rid of it altogether at some point.

  • I like Facebook's apps. For the past few months I've been reading about how they drain your battery and use up all your RAM blah blah blah so I went to a Chrome shortcut, then Metal Pro, then Swipe, then Hermit... And now I'm back at the official FB app. It's so much better than the mobile site version and the "wrappers"; the difference in battery and RAM and data (which I have unlimited of so IDGAF about data usage) is so slight it's not worth the how frustrating the mobile site is (can't tag friends easily, uploading pictures is a pain...).
    Anyway, now to SMS in the FB Messenger app. Until Monday I would have thought that this was the best idea ever! Problem is I just got a Gear S2 and if I want to use text messaging on the watch (one of the main reasons I got it), I have to use the native Samsung messaging app as the default messenger. C'est la vie!

  • hope they would have not made it ram hungry n battery hungry

  • Alex P. Apr 23, 2016 Link to comment

    They got to make the App light instead of RAM and data consuming apps like Messenger and Facebook App and we already know that Facebook is the One app that consumes a hell of a data and Battery's.So they really gotta work on it.

  • update after update messenger's one feature 'messenger could not open' bug works pefectly on almost each android phone.......we need not updates every week we need light fast messenger nt ram hungry n battery hungry messenger

  • Alex P. Apr 18, 2016 Link to comment

    Facebook please work on your standard Facebook app it sucks it eats away all the ram and data and kills battery like hell instead of the useless updates you release please modify ur standard app..

    •   18
      anshul Apr 19, 2016 Link to comment

      Facebook app affects a lot mobile's performance. Lagging, slow processing speed sometime hangs. I uninstalled it and everything back to normal even battery's performance also improved. Unnecessary consumes mobile data every time. Facebook should work on this seriously.

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