The Facebook team has really been giving Android the ‘ol college try as of late. Recently, they infused Facebook Home with new social services, and today the Android team is back, giving Facbook Messenger a little TLC.
In an update currently rolling out to a “limited number” of testers, the Facebook Messenger app has been given a complete visual overhaul. Instead of the tired old Facebook UI, the app now features a sleek new Holo UI that follows Android’s design guidelines to a tee. Really, it’s like night and day from the previous version. Like other Android apps, swiping left and right takes you between conversation lists, contacts, and settings.
Besides looking fresh, Facebook touts the lighter weight update as “faster and more reliable”. For now, we’ll just take their word for it as the old/current version of Messenger is incredibly laggy on our HTC One (in contrast to the iPhone version that’s smooth as butter).
To help avoid confusion, Facebook Messenger will now display their new Messenger icon (pictured left) next to a user’s name who also happens to be using the Messenger app. This way you’ll know ahead of time if they’re available to receive your message instantly.
Because searching for new people on Facebook is such a chore, Messenger will also allow users to message another Facebook user simply by punching in their phone number. Of course, you’ll need to verify your own mobile number before you can use this particular feature, playboy.
We’re definitely excited about the new changes and find the timing interesting, given the announcement of the new Hangouts update — now with SMS integration — hitting Android users later this week. If you want to give the new Facebook Messenger a go, a link has been provided below. Just make sure to uninstall the previous update before installing. (Thanks, WinDroidGuy and Justan!)
Download: Facebook Messenger