Facebook Messenger update brings ‘Photo Magic’, colour customisations and more

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Dominates Nielsen List of 2015’s Most Popular Apps.

Facebook is offering a feature called Photo Magic that will automatically address a message so it can be sent quickly to Facebook friends identified in a picture. “Now in Messenger, after you take a picture of a friend or group of friends, if you want to, we’ll help you send it immediately,” Facebook says. “You won’t need to stop the fun to make sure everyone has a copy of the picture.

Facebook this year continued to hold the number one position as the top app installed on U.S. smartphones based on the average number of unique users, according to a new report out this week from Nielsen, but its mobile messaging application clocked in as the fastest-growing app of 2015. Another one of the company’s apps, Facebook Messenger, jumped to the third spot in 2015 with more than 96 million users, up from around 53 million last year. Having foreseen the shift from more public social networking to private communications, Facebook forced users to install Messenger in spring 2014 by ripping out chat from its main app.

With this twist, Facebook is deploying the technology in its Messenger application to make it more convenient to distribute pictures to a few friends and family members. Facebook will highlight Photo Magic in a Messenger update that will start rolling out Thursday to users of Apple’s iPhones and smartphones running on Google’s Android software.

Taking their place were Apple Music — the streaming audio service launched in June — and Apple Maps, which has bounced back from its embarrassing launch in 2012 to attract a total of more than 54 million users. The question now will be whether or not Facebook can do the same for its next most-promising creation, the private photo-sharing app Moments which is now replacing photo-syncing on Facebook’s social network.

Facebook is also adding a bunch of new colors and emoji for the holidays, too. “For iOS, tap on the people’s names at the top of a conversation to change your family group thread to a festive red, update your mom’s formal first and last name to just ‘Mom,’ or change the emoji response in your holiday meet up group from the thumbs up to something more timely, like a party hat,” reads Facebook’s post. “Anyone in the conversation can change the colors, nicknames and emojis as many times as they want, and when you make a change, the people you’re talking to will see what updates you selected.” And, of course, Facebook has also dumped a new little snow animation into Messenger. If you send some supported emoji to a friend—something with Santa or snow in it, or something that’s blatantly related to Christmas—you’ll see a little snowfall appear on your screen. “We’re also bringing back the beloved snow globe effect for chat heads on Android.

Facebook is counting on Photo Magic to foster more allegiance to its Messenger app as it competes against other competing services such as Snapchat that have become particularly popular among teenagers and young adults. For what it’s worth, Facebook itself said last month that it had 1.39 billion mobile monthly users worldwide, up 23 percent year-over-year, and 217 million monthly actives (not just mobile users) in the U.S. in Canada in Q3 2015.

The Menlo Park, California, company believes the volume will be even higher if Photo Magic’s automation is successful in making it less of a hassle to pick out the images and figure out which people might be interested in seeing them. Meanwhile, in terms of the battle between operating systems, the U.S. still slightly favors Android with a 52.6 percent market share compared with 42.7 percent for iOS. Barely 3 percent of smartphone users owned a Windows Phone device in the past year, followed by BlackBerry which somehow still managed to claim a 0.7 percent share of the market.

Remember that all these stats are U.S.-only, and are based on Nielsen’s survey data of 30,000-plus mobile subscribers, a portion of whom have mobile measurement software installed on their devices. Still, even though the stats are limited to one region, the larger trend involving a shift to private messaging and video streaming is something that’s occurring globally.

According to App Annie’s data, for example, apps like WhatsApp (#1), Messenger (#3) and Snapchat (#8) are the top apps by downloads as of last month, and several of the top-grossing apps in the world are video streaming apps. These trends will likely continue in 2016, as more users adopt messaging applications, and the cost of mobile data continues to drop, thanks in part to free data programs that let mobile consumers stream videos for free (assuming the FCC doesn’t put an end to these programs).

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