Messaging blog WABetaInfo released new information today indicating that Facebook has plans for major changes to Messenger.
Among them are a new design, auto-translate tools, and the addition of disappearing visual content.
While a new iOS version of the Messenger app was recently released, according to the post, these rumored features are not yet available.
Facebook’s Big Plans for Messenger
The Possible New Design
In January, Messenger Product VP David Marcus alluded to a potential new design, admitting that the application had become so oversaturated with features that a “Lite” version was released. Interestingly, Messenger added video chat to the Lite version earlier this month.
“Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year,” he wrote.
By the looks of the preview images provided by WABetaInfo, it appears that this new design could be the simplification that Marcus alluded to.
“This is a new slick user interface,” says Connor Cirillo, HubSpot’s conversational marketing manager. “It’s a step back to a product with clear value.”
According to this report, the new design will also allow for quicker actions on a given conversation, like deleting or muting it. All users will have to do is tap and hold the conversation, and a non-intrusive interstitial will appear with those options.
Finally, users can also expect a made-over Discover tab, making it easier to connect with brands for purposes like customer service, Cirillo says.
“Organic discovery for brands on Messenger has been tricky,” he explains. “A revamped Discover tab should make it easier for users to find companies that solve their problems.”
Currently, the Discover option is located below the user’s conversations.
In this new version, it’s said that it will appear in a carousel above a user’s open chats, along with the Games option, which is also rumored to be making a move to the top of the screen.
Users will also be able to automatically translate all of their messages into what WABetaInfo calls “the current local language,” though what that specifically refers to is unclear. Based on the simple on/off toggle appearance of the feature, however, it might mean that the conversation will be translated based on the user’s geographical location.
“I’m skeptical of automatic translations,” says Cirillo, while also acknowledging the growing presence and importance of communication in different parts of the world.
“That’s an incredible step towards a globally-connected community,” he adds, “if they can pull it off.”
This potential addition to Messenger doesn’t exactly come as surprise, given Facebook’s penchant for emulating various Snapchat features since its 2013 (failed) acquisition attempt.
“Disappearing messages seem like increased pressure into Snapchat territory,” Cirillo says. And with users recently voicing their displeasure with changes made to Snapchat, “this could be a land-grab opportunity for Messenger to scoop up disgruntled users.”
Allowing users to send photos and videos as disappearing — or ephemeral — content is one way to do that. The addition of tools like Stories within Messenger almost seems like a predecessor to a feature like this one, with WABetaInfo alluding to Facebook’s longer-term interest in it.
“Snapchat has become the Facebook R&D lab,” Cirillo says. “The Facebook platform saturated the market with stories on its portfolio of products — Facebook, Instagram, Messenger — and now, with its emphasis on things like video calls and filters, Messenger continues to push to be the way users build one-on-one relationships.”
According to the post, Messenger will let users know that the new feature is available for all with a notification that will appear after opening a conversation.
If true, this is not the first time Facebook has experimented with a disappearing content feature. In 2015 Buzzfeed reported that the app was testing something similar in France.
Users with secret conversations in Messenger are also already able set messages to disappear.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this feature as future versions of Messenger are released. As always, feel free to weigh in on Twitter.
Featured image credit: “David Marcus, Head of Messenger” by Maurizio Pesce, used under CC BY / Cropped from original