By Alexandra Burlacu | May 07, 2012 03:27 PM EDT
Facebook, the world's largest social networking service, has updated the iOS and Android versions of Facebook Messenger, its cross-platform messaging only app, in an effort to address some of the issues associated with text-based communication.
Version 1.7 of Facebook Messenger for iPhone and Android, rolled out on Friday, May 4, brings three new features to chat keep conversations flowing. The application now informs you who has read your message, shows you where your friends are messaging from, and features a more visible real-time typing indicator with the actual name of the person typing, instead of the ambiguous three dots.
"The new Messenger clients for both iOS and Android make mobile messaging more conversational, especially when texting groups of friends on the go," a spokesperson for Facebook told VentureBeat.
The "seen by" indicator is likely the most useful of the new additions. Basically, this indicator acts like a "read receipt" such as those in BBM or iMessage, and are even easier to understand than those on BlackBerry Messenger. This feature should be particularly useful when chatting with groups, as you can see exactly who has read your message. The app will now display "Seen by X, Y, Z" right under a sent message.
While this may be very useful for the person who sends the message, this new feature also means that you can no longer ignore messages nonchalantly and pretend you never got them. Once you read a message, the person who sent it to you will know you read it, so there's no more hiding.
The other two additions are convenient tweaks designed to make chat conversations feel more fluid and contextual. The location and app-type indicators will show you where a friend is messaging you from via their mobile device and it even features an included map. For those who would like a little more privacy, location sharing is optional. You can adjust your personal settings to turn off location sharing. The read receipts, however, are not optional and cannot be turned off.
The new updates are "mobile first," meaning they will start rolling out in the standalone Messenger apps, then slowly make their way to Facebook's primary mobile apps and the Web interface itself.
(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)