Facebook has stated it is working towards introducing integration of SMS and support for multiple accounts to its popular Messenger app. Now a near-identical option is popping up for a select few Android owners in the US, discovered today via screenshots obtained by Android Police. The change means Facebook Messenger could operate similar to Google Hangouts, which combines SMS texts and Google Chat messages into a single client.
SMS support is already being tested in the U.S. Facebook also confirmed the tests currently being carried out
When the option is enabled, the text input box has a different prompt, “Write an SMS message.” AP also mentioned that messages sent as SMS texts appear in purple bubbles, instead of Facebook’s classic blue.
At its origins, Facebook Messenger was originally meant to be an SMS replacement app and a way to have a quick chat with Facebook friends.
However, the app was revamped in late 2013, adding the possibility of also messaging non-friends if you had their phone number. Still, those conversations were still delivered and stored within the Messenger app.
Instead of Messenger’s white action bar with the blue icons and blue indicator line, a few users have been seeing an inverted color gamut. The action bar is a nice deep blue, the icons and the selector are white. The status bar follows along, becoming blue too.
The below screenshots show the full Material layout with the FAB, but it looks like another variant with Messenger’s bottom blue bar is being tested as well. It’s anyone’s guess which Material layout the Messenger team finally lands on, but it’s nice to see it experiment with different iterations to see which one works best for most users.
Facebook has confirmed the test, telling The Verge, “Right now, we’re testing the ability for people to easily bring all their conversations — from SMS and Messenger — to one place. It’s a really simple way to get, see, and respond to all your SMS messages in just one app. By choosing to access your SMS messages in Messenger, they’re right alongside all the other enhanced features that Messenger offers.” Facebook is also launching multiple account support for its Android Messenger app today.
Facebook also stated each of the accounts can be password protected to maintain privacy
When Facebook first launched the feature back in 2012, the company said it would not store texts and would not allow the feature to work on its web version of Messenger or on other platforms. It’s unclear if the same restrictions are in place this time around. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
The feature, if it makes its way to a wider audience, would mark a significant and aggressive push from Facebook to eclipse SMS and long-time US rival iMessage, which Apple is able to layer over traditional text clients thanks to the integration of hardware and software. Messenger last month passed 800 million monthly active users, giving it one of the most robust mobile user bases on the planet. Yet SMS is still one of the default ways people communicate, and Facebook’s only option to siphon value from those messages is to try and route users through its own service.
To check if your app has the SMS option, look for “Change SMS App” in the Messenger settings panel. The feature is optional, Facebook says.