Facebook announced last night that it’s opening up the Messenger app to third-party developers, allowing you to send sports GIFs, Imgur pics, e-cards and all manner of random stuff to your besties.
Mark Zuckerberg revealed the big news at Facebook’s annual F8 developer’s conference, held yesterday in San Francisco. Developers can now add their own content to the Messenger app, kind of like bolstering a web browser with widgets that add extra functionality, and Zuckerberg also announced a bunch of new features to hit Messenger imminently.
The app will now support GIFs, sourced from both your own stash and online repositories like ESPN, so you can share short clips of goals and other assorted action. You’ll even be able to craft your own animated messages, complete with voice input from the totally adorable and not at all annoying Talking Tom.
You can also quickly share your Imgur snaps, weather forecasts and updates from The Weather Channel, plus audio clips courtesy of Sound Clip and E-cards from JibJab too.
Facebook also announced that Messenger would be making its first real foray into the business world with the addition of an associated service called Businesses on Messenger. Users will be able to contact vendors who use Facebook to discuss orders and organise returns, among other things.
These changes will see Messenger grow into a fully-fledged app of its own and actually justify its separation from the main Facebook app, rather than lingering in the shadow of its brother. The Messenger app already has a user base of around 600 million and these new features are likely to hook in a lot more social fans and generate some new revenue for the already wealthy Facebook.
Whether or not the app is growing too fast is the one question which is likely to be on many people’s lips though. After all, opening up to third party developers means a lot of new content will be burped out onto the platform all in one go, which could lead to overload and potential technical issues for some users. We’ll be testing out the new Messenger app to see if Zuckerberg’s plans are a step in the right direction, but let us know your thoughts in the comments below.