March 24, 2017

Facebook Messenger Finally Makes Group Chat Not a Total Hassle

For all its virtues, Facebook Messenger works more like email than a group messaging app like GroupMe or Tango. If you want to talk with someone directly, no problem. But it hasn’t handled large groups effectively because it lacked some of the key elements that make group messaging fun. It was too simple. A pair of new features, called Reactions and Mentions, constitute part of Facebook’s bid to make Messenger more inclusive.

You already know Reactions as the tool that lets you comment on status updates with a broader range of emotions than a simple thumbs up or down. Now that functionality comes to Messenger, letting you choose one of seven pre-baked replies for those times that you’re too busy or too lazy to type something more thoughtful. Someone in your group announces a new job? Simply tap the “love” reaction and hit enter. Have to cancel movie plans because the theater’s sold out? Go with a “sad.” Your other options include “smile,” “wow,” “angry,” “yes,” and “no,” Basically, Facebook just gave you another way of putting as little thought and effort as possible into your communication. Thanks, Zuck! 

Mentions, meanwhile, takes clear inspiration from GroupMe, the popular group messaging app that Microsoft bought a few years ago. The new feature lets you directly notify someone by within a group by putting an @ in front of their name. That person’s name is then highlighted in blue for everyone in the group message to see—just like in GroupMe. It’s a great tool if you want to pick someone out from the crowd so you can ask them a question or publicly shame them.

Facebook wants to make sure you never leave its walled garden, and these two tools go a small way toward make Messenger your one-stop shop. Most of all, regardless of your chat app of choice, they make whatever time you do spend using Messenger that much more convenient. Because really, who has the time?

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