Facebook’s Messenger app is taking a big step forward. During today’s annual F8 developer conference, the social networking giant announced Messenger is now a platform that will interact with other third-party apps.
Starting today, all developers can take advantage of the platform. But for the launch, Facebook worked with more than 40 developers to produce apps for Messenger including Bitmoji, ESPN, Giphy, JibJab, The Weather Channel, and many others. You can find the complete list of launch partners here.
In a blog post, Facebook discussed more about how apps will work inside Messenger:
Messenger Platform apps can display the option for a person to install the app from within Messenger, or to reply using content from the app. If the person receiving the message doesn’t already have an app installed, they can tap Install to be taken directly to the app store to get started using the app. This means people can discover apps recommended by their friends, naturally through their conversations.
Facebook also took the time to announce a new business-focused initiative that will help companies communicate with customers. Businesses on Messenger is a chat service that will allow users to start a conversation with a company and do things like receive updates on an order’s shipping status and ask open-ended order questions. The business will then provide quick response.
The two initial partners – Everlane and Zulilly – are retail focused. But Facebook is also working with Zendesk to offer the chat experience.
A universal app, Facebook Messenger can be downloaded now on the App Store for free.
It’s obvious with today’s announcements that Facebook is making a big play to leverage Messenger, and the more than 600 million people who use the service, as a new source of revenue. I’ll be interested to see how much traction the two new initiatives can find in the future.
For other news today, see: Film extras sought this Sunday, March 29 for upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, Swiss watchmakers have mixed feelings about Apple Watch, and Apple quietly acquires a cloud database company.