All kidding aside, social messaging is as popular as it is powerful. Many people are quick to joke that fans of technology love messaging between mobile devices entirely too much –pushing old fashioned telephone conversations toward extinction. Any grandparent living a distance from their grandchildren will tell you that this new style of messaging bridges gaps unlike any voice call ever could; sending photographs and videos is effortless and painless. Facebook gets it, and they want to dominate it. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference last month, their new Messenger platform was introduced (making it a little more obvious why the company invested billions in other technologies like Instagram and WhatsApp).
So what? Even though Facebook Messenger boasts over 600 million active users, it isn’t like there is a lack of popularity with other services (not the least of which being plain-old SMS ‘text messages’)… and sure, they have added other ‘value-added’ features like voice calling and location sharing… but they also have vision (and more importantly, platform independence).
So how do you win friends and influence people in this arena? Open things up for other developers and users to place their mark on the product, personalize it, and capitalize on the most popular social media platform available –while also making it independent and reasonably non-dependent (improving on both will prove critical to its long term success).
How does it work? By taking advantage of add-on apps, which thankfully are installed (and removed) using traditional app store methods and not using some bizarre in-app, convoluted process.
If you want to see how these things work, take a look at a few of my favourite add-on apps:
- Ultratext for Messenger – Boasts being the fastest way to make a GIF message (customize and send your creations in under 5 seconds)!
- GIF for Messenger – These developers want you to be able to quickly express just how much you love pizza (or that girl you have had your eye on, or that new song everybody is humming). Access your favourites again and again from your own library of recent creations.
- EmoticonAR for Messenger – This add-on uses facial recognition to identify the mood of every person in your snapshot and match them against several built-in mood statuses: happy, sad, tired, great, wonderful, troubled, excited, blessed, loved and sexy.
- Imoji for Messenger – Turn any image into a sticker!
As you can likely imagine, there are countless others I could point you toward –and it is just the beginning… my only hope is that the average users (above high school age) doesn’t go overboard. I like a clever GIF as much (or more) than anybody, but I may go a little crazy if suddenly every message I receive is cluttered with them.
Jillian Koskie is an experienced software developer, content writer, project manager and usability design expert. With over 17 years in these roles, Jillian has enjoyed applying her skill-set to assist clients and users across a wide variety of sectors including: legal, health, and financial services. Combining these professional opportunities with a love of technology, Jillian is pleased to contribute articles, opinions, and advice to numerous news outlets, websites, and publications.