Facebook, the biggest online social network, is taking on the Whatsapp’s and iMessages of the App Store world, with a standalone messaging app of its own. Called Facebook Messenger, and launched a few minutes ago, it brings Facebook chat, and recently improved messaging features as a standalone app to your iPhone.

All Facebook messages will be accessible from within the app, allowing users to send and receive their messages. Facebook Messenger will also allow users to message several people at once and send pictures with location information and details. It also includes push notifications so you won’t miss any of your Facebook messages.

Facebook Messenger - Accessing all your contacts

 

Peter Deng, a Facebook product manager said:

“It’s just that the separate app has a few extra features. All your messages will still be in one place. Your conversation between you and your friends is now accessible anywhere you go.”

The technology behind Facebook Messenger was derived from Beluga, a group messaging app, which Facebook acquired back in March and is still available on the App Store. Facebook Messenger is designed to rival other messaging apps, such as BlackBerry Messenger and Apple’s own upcoming iMessage.

Initially, Facebook messenger will only be available for users in the U.S. and Canada, and only for those who own an iPhone or an Android device. Facebook plans to roll the app out to other markets in the coming weeks.

Update: Thanks to 9to5Mac, we now know there is a “hidden” video component to the new Facebook Messenger app. Of course, it has to be enabled with a few tweaks, but the code appears to be present!