Facebook has been busy testing new versions of its Material-inspired Messenger in recent weeks. Three weeks ago, the Material Design refresh started showing up for a handful of users with an account-switching feature and new FAB (floating action button), while others last week reported a fresh new blue lick of paint.
More recently than that, it seems some Messenger users are seeing the inclusion of a new feature. Or rather, the return of an old, discontinued feature.
Facebook pulled SMS support from its Messenger app back in 2013, but it seems now that the company is at least testing its re-inclusion. One user told Android Police that they saw a new SMS settings pane, and was even able to use Messenger to send a regular text message.
Seemingly, a purple theme/speech bubbles are used to differentiate between regular Facebook messages and SMS. It also shows ‘Write an SMS message’ in the text input field to remind you that you’re not sending a Facebook message.
Unlike Hangouts, SMS and Messenger conversations from the same user don’t get combined in to one thread, according to the user. Hopefully, that’s a purposeful decision from Facebook to avoid confusion. After all, typing in one conversation and not knowing whether or not your message will send as SMS or Messenger text can be frustrating.
Having already decided to ditch the feature a couple of years ago, it’s certainly curious to see Facebook toying with the idea of bringing it back. At the time it said there wasn’t enough interest or engagement from its users to make it worthwhile. Still, if the different message types are clearly differentiated like this, I welcome any app features that mean I can remove one more from my home screen.