Facebook Turns Messenger Into a Platform, Allows Third-Party iOS App Integration
At today's F8 Facebook Developer Conference, Facebook debuted its new Messenger Platform, a major update to the Messenger service that allows users to send content like GIFs, photos, videos, and more from third-party apps within the Facebook Messenger app for iOS.
Beginning today, iOS app developers can build Facebook Messenger support into their apps, making them directly accessible within the Facebook Messenger app. Facebook has already worked with more than 40 developers, so apps with Messenger support are already available in the iOS App Store.
Apps can be accessed in the Facebook Messenger app for iOS when the "More" icon is tapped within a conversation. This opens up a list of available apps that can be installed, and when tapping install, you'll be taken to the app's install page in the iOS App Store.
The way third-party apps work with Messenger on iOS is a bit convoluted. Apps are installed independently, but those that support the Messenger Platform will send their content via Messenger. For example, if you install GIF app Giphy on your iPhone (which is one of the new apps that supports the Messenger Platform), tapping on it from within the Messenger app will open the separate iOS app to let you choose and send a GIF.
In the Giphy app, you will see a list of all your Messenger friends, and once you tap to send a GIF to one of them, you will be returned to the Messenger app and your original Messenger conversation. From there, you can continue on the conversation, send additional GIFs, or send other content from other third-party apps. Content can be viewed in the Facebook desktop app, but sending it can only be done from an iOS device.
There are a wealth of third-party apps available in Facebook Messenger for iOS right now. Apps include GIF apps like Giphy, emoji apps, sticker apps, video apps, collage apps, and more. All of the apps are being released today in the iOS App Store and have been specially developed for use with the Facebook Messenger app.
While most of the apps have been developed by third parties, Facebook has released its own apps for Messenger, including Stickered, Selfied, and Shout. Third-party apps include ClipDis, Giphy, Bitmoji, ESPN, Camoji, Talking Tom, and Emu.
Facebook has faced some criticism for the way it's handled its iOS apps, most notably removing messages access from the main Facebook app and forcing users to download Facebook Messenger, but today's update with expanded content for the iOS app may change public opinion and could draw in users who have been reluctant to download the Messenger app for iOS.