Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Connectivity

Facebook Lets Developers Build on Its Chat App

Facebook hopes that adding functionality like video sharing and shopping to Messenger will help it grow even as competition rises.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with 1.4 billion users.

Facebook is responding to the growing popularity of mobile messaging apps by giving its own messaging app new capabilities. The company will let developers make their apps work within Facebook Messenger, and is also making it possible for shoppers to chat with businesses using the app.

During a presentation at the social network’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook wants to make it easier for Messenger’s 600 million users to share more content—animated GIFs, videos, or animated greeting cards, for example—through Messenger itself, rather than by leaving the chat app. To do that, Facebook is rolling out Messenger Platform, which developers can use to make Messenger apps for sharing various kinds of media.

You can already share photos, videos, stickers, and maps of your location over Messenger, as well as make voice calls through the app and, as of recently, send money to another user. But allowing outside developers to integrate with the app could give Messenger an advantage over newer chat apps like WeChat and Snapchat.

In a demo, Facebook’s Messenger head, David Marcus, pointed out a three-dot icon near the bottom of the Messenger screen on a smartphone; pressing it yielded a list of apps already installed for use with Messenger (in this case, a personalized emoji-maker called Bitmoji and a text customizer and animator called Legend). Users can create an animated expression like “I’m so excited!” using Legend, for example, and send it through Messenger to a friend who will be able to see it even if they don’t have the Legend app. Marcus also showed how other apps could be installed from a Messenger app store.

Messenger Platform became available Wednesday, and Marcus said that more than 40 apps are participating.

Facebook also unveiled a plan to let businesses chat with customers in a new way. The hope is that when you’re buying something online, a retailer will let you choose to be contacted via Messenger about your order, and if you assent, you can see an order confirmation, shipping details, and other information in the app. You’ll even be able to do things like change your order or, as a demo with online clothing retailer Everlane indicated, buy additional items via chat.

Everlane and daily-deal clothing site Zulily will be among the first companies using the service in the next few weeks, and additional merchants will be added in the coming months.

Keep up with the latest in Facebook at EmTech Digital.

The Countdown has begun.
March 25-26, 2019
San Francisco, CA

Register now
More from Connectivity

What it means to be constantly connected with each other and vast sources of information.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    The MIT Technology Review App

  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.