Facebook Messenger for Android gets a makeover: is it any good?

A material design makeover of Facebook Messenger was on the cards for a while, and now that it has arrived on the Android app, is it going to make our lives any better?

The new-look Messenger app, which is being rolled out across the world as we speak, brings in a bright blue navigation bar with menu options at the top and a floating action button at the bottom.

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David Marcus, the head of Facebook Messenger, appeared optimistic as he announced the new makeover via a Facebook post.

"If you're using Messenger on Android, you've been wanting a brand new material design for a bit. Any major redesign of an essential app used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is painstakingly hard, and that's why we took every precaution to ensure you'd truly enjoy this evolution. This brand new design will be rolling out later today! As always, give it a try, and let us know what you think, and how we can make it even better for you!" he said.

The blue navigation bar at the top contains buttons for recent chats, contacts, chat settings and an option for creating new groups, while the floating action button gives you the option to start new chats. Basically, not much has changed except for the fact that Facebook has turned Messenger more colourful with the bright blue band at the top which is a welcome respite from the white band which was, to be honest, quite bland.

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Facebook has been striving to turn Messenger more resourceful for users, given that rival chat platforms constantly threaten to surge ahead with the addition of new features and design. Last year, Facebook opened up Messenger to users who did not own a Facebook account. The update was the first since Facebook introduced a new video calling feature on Messenger towards the end of April.

Facebook is also working towards enabling users to send money to each other through the social networks’ Messenger mobile app. The update would let Facebook users send money to each other during conversations within the Messenger app, using either a credit/debit card already held on Facebook’s system (for game payments, for example), or a new card can be added. Payments are kept completely private and nothing about them is published to the user’s Newsfeed.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year that “there will be some overlap” between Messenger and payments, adding: “The payments piece will be a part of what will help drive the overall success and help people share with each other and interact with businesses.” However, he was quick to point out “there’s so much groundwork” for Facebook to complete before the system will go live.

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