Facebook expands messaging service features

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces new features allowing developers to create apps for the Facebook messenger application as well as a way to communicate directly with businesses through Facebook messenger.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 25, 2015) (F8 FACEBOOK DEVELOPER CONFERENCE) – Facebook Inc on Wednesday (March 25) opened up its Messenger service for developers to create apps and for consumers to communicate directly with retailers, in the social media network’s latest effort to expand its reach.

“Today we’re introducing messenger platform. It’s a new platform that developers can use to build apps that help people connect with the more than 600 million people who are using messenger as they communicate everyday. So, by opening up messenger as a platform we’re going to be able to help people express themselves in rich new ways and make their conversations better,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his keynote speech which kicked off the F8 Facebook Developer Conference in San Francisco .

The push to transform Facebook’s messaging service into one that operates independently of the company’s social media network comes as it faces intensifying competition from Twitter Inc and Google Inc, as well as from fast-growing messaging apps such as Snapchat and WeChat.

Facebook unveiled the new features at the annual conference, for the first time allowing developers to create apps that function inside the Messenger app, which has more than 600 million users.

Another feature will allow consumers to use Messenger to send a text message to make a restaurant reservation or to receive a notification that a product purchased online has shipped.

“Think about how useful it would be if you could just message a business and instantly get information about whatever you need, make a reservation, buy something in line, exchange shipping information and times. So, today we’re introducing a way for you to communicate with businesses right through messenger,” said Zuckerberg. “Helping people communicate more naturally with businesses is going to improve I think almost every person’s life,” he said.

Forty different apps will be available on Messenger in the coming days, allowing users of the service to send each other sports clips and animations, Facebook said.