Facebook is releasing updates to its Android apps that make major improvements to messaging in both the main Facebook app and the Messenger companion app. Facebook highlighted features of the new Facebook Messenger app on its website today to note the more conventional SMS-style conversation view and the ability to text contacts directly from Messenger on certain Android phones. As noted by TechCrunch, the texting feature is currently available on the HTC EVO 3D, HTC One X, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus Hub, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Y.

Another new feature is the ability to swipe to the left “anywhere in the app to see who’s available and send a message” and add friends to your Favorites for quick access. The main Facebook Android app will receive a refresh and similarly redesigned messaging UI, quick access to online contacts, and various security and performance enhancements. A full list of what is new is below:

What’s in this version:

• New button in upper right of News Feed quickly shows who’s available to message

• New design for conversations in Messages

• When sending messages, see who’s active so you and your friends know how soon to expect a reply

• Improvements to make the app more secure and reliable, including bug fixes for errors during multi-photo selections, device restarts, and push notifications

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