Despite Facebook users’ reluctance to have a separate app for Messenger, a lot of people are using it.
Facebook announced Thursday that the service has more than 800 million monthly active users. In the announcement, VP of Messaging Products David Marcus looked back at the platform’s year in 2015 and alluded to what’s to come.
With 800 million users, this gives Facebook two messaging platforms closing in on 1 billion users. WhatsApp, which Facebook acquired for $19 billion back in 2014, announced in September that it had passed the 900 million user mark.
Last year, Messenger received a lot of different features. It introduced video calling, and while it’s not the most reliable option for that, it showed Messenger’s reach beyond a text-based chatting service. Plus, it had one million video calls on the first two days.
And realizing how universal Facebook is, it added Businesses on Messenger, providing an avenue between customers and businesses. Perhaps two of the most notable additions to Facebook were message requests — doing away with the “other” inbox — and the ability to order an Uber.
As for the future of Messenger, details were vague, though Marcus provided several themes in which the platform might see some changes. One of those was the idea that “threads are the new apps.” In other words, Facebook wants Messenger to be the go-to spot for almost anything you can do through your phone:
We’re seeing a paradigm shift in how people engage. At Messenger we’re thinking about how we can help you interact with businesses or services to buy items, order rides, purchase airline tickets, and talk to customer service in truly frictionless and delightful ways. It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity (no need to ever login), rather than downloading apps that you’ll never use again and jumping around from one app to another. Our early tests in 2015 with brands are showing that interactions will happen more and more in your Messenger threads, so we’ll continue making it easy for you to engage with businesses, and we’ll also do more to enable additional businesses and services to build the right experience in conversations.
Marcus also mentions M, Facebook’s AI-based virtual assistant:
You can expect us to keep trying new things, too. Our test of M, our digital virtual assistant, powered by human-trained AI, is going well. It’s still very, very early days, but the growing AI capabilities are bringing unparalleled convenience to simple, every day tasks like booking a restaurant, sending flowers, and making plans. There will be more innovative developments to come from Messenger this year.
A spokesperson told Mashable that an average of more than 45 billion messages are sent daily (that includes Messenger, WhatsApp and desktop chat), and people send more than 9.5 billion photos through Messenger every month. We’ll see where else Messenger heads in 2016.