Creepy? Or Just Effective Ambient Social Networking?: Facebook Updates Messenger For iOS and Android

Facebook’s updated messenger now allows you the ability to see if someone has read a message you sent. It will tell you who has seen the message right below the message–this message has been seen by… The updated messenger service also lets you see if someone is working on a message to send back to you. In a strong move towards more ambient based social networking, Facebook Messenger wil tell you where your friends are, and alert you if they are near by. The service calls these features “read receipts.”

Read receipts will quell the anxiety of wondering whether someone has received your message or not. Imagine a situation where you are waiting for a friend who will not pick up the phone to let you know what the delay is. With Facebook Messenger’s new service, you will be able to see if your friend can’t get to the phone, or if they have seen the message and are ignoring the task of responding.

Facebook’s Peter Deng explains the messenger’s goal in releasing these new features, “SMS has been around for 20 years, built it was for these T9 phones. We’re focused on leveraging all the capabilities of today’s devices to create a new messaging experience.”

The new updated features are considered “mobile first”, meaning the effects will take place first in the messenger app, then in the app, and finally on Facebook’s web-based services. This will incentivize Facebook users to use the mobile messaging app.

Facebook is doing a lot to establish its dominance over the mobile marketplace. It just finalized a purchase of ambient social networking app Glancee, and has already made headway in its purchase of Instagram and Beluga. Facebook’s push towards ambient social networking is already apparent in the messenger’s new features. You can now see the city of someone who sends you a message if they have their location based services enabled.

The updates to the messenger service seem highly useful, but they will bring with them some awkwardness. The new services make it harder to passively ignore people you don’t want to engage in conversation with. If you happen to be in the same store as one of your Facebook friends, they can know where you are whether you want them to or not. This is because you are not allowed the option to turn off “read receipts.” Facebook says its future plans involve adding a video chat feature to its messenger service.

Check out the updated Facebook Messenger via the iTunes Store.

Images via TechCrunch.

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