Facebook reveals Messenger Platform over at F8

Over at the F8 conference, Facebook has announced that Messenger Platform has gone live – a platform that allows developers to modify Facebook Messenger with their own third-party add-on apps.

There are two ways of looking at this, at least from the consumer standpoint – Messenger is getting plenty more features and functionality, or it’s in danger of becoming a bloated piece of software as these add-ons keep getting, well, added.

Facebook announced that there are 40 new apps to begin with, which allow for a number of things including peppering conversations with animated GIFs, images, photo collages, videos, music and audio clips, plus users can also avail themselves of custom emoji, stickers, and so forth.

If a friend sends a message to you, and you don’t have the requisite app, you can simply tap install to get it directly within Messenger. Which is partly where the worries of the Messenger app becoming a bloated beast come from – it’s easy to install these things (and tempting for the average user, who wants to see what their friend is sending them).

When you respond to a friend’s Messenger Platform missive, you’ll automatically be switched to the correct app to reply, so no thinking will be needed on the user’s part here, either.

You can download and use these apps right now.

Another feature, Businesses on Messenger, was also previewed at F8 to give organisations new ways to engage with customers who are part of Facebook Messenger’s 600 million strong user base.

This service allows consumers to have “rich and personal conversations” with businesses – with firms being able to offer order confirmations on Messenger, and the likes of shipping updates. Customers will be able to track orders, or indeed return them, and ask questions directly to the business, with the idea being swift responses can be provided.

Facebook stated: “This whole set of interactions and features are unified in a single, ongoing thread between the person and the business.”

The plan is to initially launch Businesses on Messenger with a couple of selected major partners, and roll out from there.