Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB) has come up with a feature for smartphone users that allows them to bypass the restrictions of text-messaging plans. Their new Messenger app allows Android users to register, sync contacts, and message friends using their phone number as an identifier. Facebook is thus foraying into the territory of similar services like iMessage and Android's WhatsApp.
There have been speculations about Facebook being interested in acquiring WhatsApp for some time. And why not? This multi-platform messaging app has gained traction across both Android and iOS. However, WhatsApp have confirmed that the speculations are nothing but rumors.
Users who sign up with a phone number can message, start group conversations, and share photos with the app, according to Facebook. A representative from the company said that users must be signed up with Messenger or Facebook to receive messages sent from one of these new Messenger accounts. Facebook is actually using your phone number as a substitute to identify you and your friends within each others’ address books. You are interacting with each other by using data rather than the SMS.
Although this feature is available for users without Facebook accounts too, in reality, providing a name and phone number essentially denotes the creation of an account, but with another set of criteria. An update to the Android version is available now, but users have to wait a few weeks before they can begin creating accounts with only their phone numbers. In fact, a revision of the site’s Data Use Policy, includes a system allowing users to register using other information like a phone number. The clause is presently up for a sitewide vote.