Christmas is almost here and if you’re anything like 92 percent of Americans, you’re ready to celebrate this holiday for all that it’s worth. Time spent with loved ones, tables set with good food, and plenty of gift exchanges are on the horizon. Speaking of gifts, not all of them come wrapped in shiny paper with bows on top. Some of those gifts are found in the digital world, specifically in apps.
In 2016, Facebook Messenger has taken the role of Santa Claus in quite a few ways.
Calling instant messaging “popular” would be like calling the sky “blue.” Facebook Messenger is one of the biggest names in IM, but it’s more than just an app for texting purposes. As a matter of fact, in 2016 alone, it has been treated to a number of small and large updates alike. What has Facebook Messenger done in order to become more of a mainstay on mobile devices?
To keep up with the holiday spirit, here are the gifts that Facebook Messenger gave this year.
Mobile games are nothing new, but the idea of playing them on an instant messaging service is intriguing. Instant Games was rolled out last month, the purpose being to give Facebook Messenger users a series of pick-up-and-play titles. Do you fancy yourself an old-school gamer? Galaga, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man are up to your alley. There are more modern titles as well, including Cooking Mama and Endless Lake. Simply put, there’s something for everyone.
Instant Games may not be the feature that sets everyone’s world on fire, but the fact that Facebook Messenger implemented it shows that it’s meant to be more than an IM app. As a matter of fact, as Instant Games gains more steam, it’s likely that its library will either shift or expand. The more variety there is, the more that people will come back to Instant Games, even if they don’t have urgent messages to get back to.
This past Thursday, Facebook unveiled a new in-app camera that Snapchat users should be familiar with. Essentially, it offers a number of filters, facial manipulations, and other visual features that can be used, courtesy of smartphone and tablet cameras. What this means is that you can do anything from simply overlaying your selfies with colors to giving yourself a funny pair of glasses or a pair of reindeer antlers. It’s easy to see where Facebook took cues.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “…a camera will be the main way that we share.” The text is still the primary way that we communicate with one another and it’s difficult to say if that will change in 2017. However, the success of Snapchat has shown us that there is plenty of room for photography to become a communication method, whether you’re into what Snapchat offers or couldn’t care less about it.
The latest Facebook Messenger addition comes in the form of a group video chat feature. Up to six people can be in a single group chat at once, but it goes far beyond simply speaking to one another on camera. Not unlike the aforementioned in-app camera, Snapchat-like features can be implemented. It’d be interesting to see the kinds of “selfie wars” that people can get into, with filters, emojis, and the like serving as playful ammunition.
Much like mobile games, video chat isn’t a new feature when it comes to apps. However, the fact that Facebook has finally gotten involved means that they see untapped potential. Perhaps more so than text or photos, communication is largely being consumed by video. Face-to-face interaction offers a sense of confidence that cannot be easily obtained by other means. When you can directly interact with someone, conversations become easier. I find it likely that this will be a commonly used feature come 2017.
What do you think of these additions made to Facebook Messenger in 2016? Do any of them strike you as particularly interesting? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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