August 9, 2011
Facebook acquired Beluga, a popular group messaging application, in early March, and we haven’t heard much about the popular app since. Today, Facebook launched Messenger for Mobile, a simple group messaging application for both iPhone and Android. It looks a lot like Beluga meets Facebook. The Beluga app is still alive in iTunes too, so at this point they appear to have saved the whale – but it may be only a matter of time till the Beluga app swims off into the sunset.
The application makes it easy to communicate with your Facebook friends – you can send photo messages to one or more people, and the app also ties directly into the existing Facebook messages queue so you can respond to any of your existing Facebook messages from this lighter weight alternative to the regular Facebook application. One thing it does not appear to have is the SMS component that other popular group messaging applications like GroupMe offer, but it does leverage push notifications to let you know when messages are available.
The application is also supposed to make it easy to connect with your friends while you are out and about by plotting all of your friends who are sharing their locations on a simple map. I was not yet able to see this functionality in the application though, so maybe that is coming in the next release. This could be helpful once it’s added, but in the meantime, I’ll just have to leverage Foursquare, Gowalla, Google+ or any other handful of location-based apps to see where my friends may be hanging out while I am out.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of Facebook’s messaging in the Facebook app – I often miss messages because they don’t alert me, it feels too heavy and has a tendency to crash on my phone and thus I lose messages in the works. This light, simple messaging application is something I welcome in hopes of keeping better tabs on my Facebook messages. It also appears to be a response to Google’s recent launch of the Google+ mobile app which offers Huddles as a way to group message and communicate while on the go. And of course, it’s also a way to pre-empt Apple, which is expected to launch iMessage, a native messaging app added to iOS5, which was announced in June, but has not yet been released.
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