Available now for download at the Apple App Store and the Android Market, Facebook Messenger is taking on BlackBerry Messenger, Google’s Huddles and Apple’s upcoming iMessage service with the launch of this new product.
Not quite text messaging and not quite e-mail, Facebook messages are a very fast way to get in touch with friends individually or in groups.
Facebook Messenger has a leg up on the competition in some respects. For example, in Huddles you can only send text-based messages, while Messenger lets you add photo and geolocation information.
Facebook Messenger also lets you integrate your browser and mobile conversations without missing a beat, whereas the other services will keep the conversation on your mobile devices.
The app also lets you delay notifications for an hour (if you have a meeting) or until the morning.
There may be another hidden gem in the app — 9 to 5 Mac reported that it found some code in Messenger that hints at a video chat service in development. Given that Facebook recently made the jump into video chat through its partnership with Skype, it would be no surprise if that speculation turned out to be true.
(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)