Facebook Messages expands to snip at the heals of Gmail & Hotmail but while it's powerful it's still missing basic functionality...
Facebook is continuing to expand its new Messaging platform across its user base with my account being upgraded today to the new platform. This follows the preparation where all Facebook staff were moved from Facebook.com to FB.com email addresses earlier this year.
The expansion of the FB messaging platform also ties in with the upcoming WindowsPhone Mango update that allows for threaded conversations no matter if the platform is SMS, email or FB messages.
The key features of the new FB message platform
- All your messages are together
- See the full conversation history
- Focus on message from your friends
Has Facebook simplified communication?
The other interesting aspect is that Facebook has killed off the need for a subject line but also allowed you to leave large conversation threads that are no longer relevant. The platform is also focused around your friends so any spam is automatically hidden and any bulk emails or unknown senders are moved to your “other” folder. While this is likely not going to kill of email overnight the simplified aspects is going to appeal to a large number of users but certainly fills the gap between IM and Email. Facebook email is certainly not suitable for business or corporate communication but does offer an interesting alternative to Gmail and Hotmail for personal communication.
Now you are able to receive emails as part of your Facebook conversions with your FB email address matching your public username. This is going to produce interesting results for those users that have created strange usernames who are stuck with this email for as long as they use Facebook.
You are able to then activate your Facebook email and you are ready to start receiving emails from non-friends on Facebook and also sending messages to non-friends on Facebook. It’s also a good idea once your Facebook email is activated to control who can send you messages in your account privacy settings.
You can now send to someone on Facebook to externally to any email address, but can also send the message as a text message if it is important. At this stage you appear to be able to attach any type of file to the message which will likely be locked down as it opens a massive security risk and potential flood of infected files and trojans. The other initial issue is that you can potentially attach any sized file which might be a feature but there is no guidance on your accounts email storage or send limits so best not use it to share large files just yet.
You can also add attachments, photos or video to any reply so could be easily expanded and improved to suit group collaboration and make planning events and holidays easier with your Facebook friends. The other items that will be eventually added to its message platform likely include the ability to link in Facebook Pages, Groups or Events into your messages easily.
The new FB message platform allows you to take a picture or video feature allows provides a functionality to turn on my laptops webcam and you can select between video and photos but only one can be added per message at this stage. The video quality appears to be fairly low resolution but it’s fast and if required you can replay the message or reset it before you send it.
The FB email platform is smart enough to automatically link the email you supplied to the name attached to their account. So if your friends continue to use “firstname.lastname@example.org” it will automatically show their real name James Smith in the message thread.
Facebook Message options
The new message platform in keeping with Facebook’s platform is fairly limited but also simple enough for anyone to use. To use the actions you select the checkbox next to the message and then select an option. The platform is not desired to deal with thousands of messages so remember to archive your messages regularly so your inbox doesn’t become overwhelmed. There is no guidance on maximum number emails you can store or total storage space your account is allowed. There is also the missing feature of being able to select multiple messages quickly to perform bulk actions but this feature will hopefully be added soon as more users start using the platform.
Facebook Message Search improves
Obviously a big factor with consolidating all your messages is you know need an improved search feature but the functionality lets the platform down. The platform consolidates your Chat history into your message thread but you are not able to search through your previous chats only messages and emails. This is a problem as chat and messages can sometimes blur and you can mix between the two but you cannot search Chats at this time.
When are looking at a conversation thread you are able to search for keywords but it doesn’t offer search as you type and also doesn’t highlight within the results where in the conversation the keyword is found. The search as you type feature is fairly common in Facebook but the highlighted text element is required.
What’s next for Facebook Messages?
I assume one of the next steps is further integration of messages into the Facebook platform but also looking to integrate an improved Facebook calendar/event functionality to match Google & Outlook Calendars. The other obvious step forward for the Facebook platform is the eventual roll out of their Facebook email marketing solution that links in with the Facebook Ads, Facebook Page analytics and even Facebook Connect.
Get started with Facebook Messages