Facebook May Be Addicted to Apps, but You Don’t Have to Be
If you were worrying that your Facebook habit has been leading you to spend too much time in one app, that social network has a simple solution: Now it’s two apps!
This fission will see the chat functions of the company’s flagship title split off into a separate Messenger app. Messenger has been around for a while, but until now it’s been an option you could choose if you wanted such extras as free phone calls to other Facebook members. Now it’s mandatory.
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In unfriending the core app’s messaging features, Facebook is following the same playbook as other high-profile online services. Foursquare, for example, recently exiled the check-in functions that let you share your whereabouts to a separate app, Swarm.
What’s so bad about one more app?
The Messenger move was not a huge surprise, considering how many other mobile apps Facebook has shipped — that many people don’t know anything about. There’s the Home Android app first seen on the short-lived HTC First phone, the artsy Paper app, the Facebook-for-the-famous Mentions, and the weird participatory photo messenger Slingshot. Those last three, products of Facebook’s experimental Creative Labs shop, are easy to ignore for most people.
Not so with Messenger. And every single app you add represents another icon cluttering crowded home screens, another item to flip through as you switch among apps, and another source of distraction from software-update dialogs cryptically advertising “bug fixes.” And since any one of those updates could itself hide a bug, each one slightly increases your risk of a phone’s battery life, bandwidth, or storage mysteriously getting eaten up.
Facebook says a division of labor between its main app and the separate Messenger app will leave both smaller, faster, and more reliable. I hope that happens.
However, even this recently after the Facebook/Messenger split, neither app feels noticeably smaller nor lighter. Messenger, for example, is accreting features quickly. It supports group chats, sending photos and videos, placing voice calls, sending voice messages, and dressing up messages with stickers.