As the humble SMS – short message service – celebrated its 20th birthday earlier this week, its future is far from certain. Facebook today released an update to its Messenger app for Android that allows users to message each other without the need for a Facebook account – something that’s sure to accelerate SMS’s demise.
Messenger is Facebook’s standalone cross-platform messaging app, similar to the hugely popular Whatsapp. Messenger users can message others with the app installed for free using their existing internet data plan or Wi-Fi connection.
The important aspect of today’s announcement is that users no longer need a Facebook account to use Messenger. Although Facebook is the world’s largest social network with over one billion active users, removing the need to use the app with a Facebook account will ultimately encourage more users on board.
Non-Messenger users can associate their mobile number to a Facebook account and reply to messages directly from Facebook.
Messenger is installed on 50-100 million Android devices.
The new feature will be rolled out to Android users over the coming weeks, although the app update is available from today.