Facebook Messenger for iPhone Adds Split Payments, Disappearing Messages, and More

Facebook Messenger for iPhone new features Feb 2022 Credit: Meta
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With a massive landscape of messaging apps out there, it’s really not fair to say that Apple’s iMessage is in a dominant position, and Facebook is once again proving this with an update to Facebook Messenger that adds several unique new features.

Facebook Messenger, of course, is one of several messaging apps in Meta’s portfolio, which also includes WhatsApp and Instagram. While the latter of those isn’t primarily a messaging app, it’s adopted a much stronger focus on direct messaging lately, catering to those who prefer to remain in a single app for most of their social media needs.

Still, Facebook Messenger continues to distinguish itself with tighter integration for folks who already live in the world of Facebook, along with more group social features. Now, the social media giant has released an update that adds even more enhancements along those lines. Here’s what’s new.

Vanish Mode

Perhaps the most interesting of the new features in Facebook Messenger is one that we haven’t seen in too many other messaging apps. A new “Vanish Mode” will allow users to send messages that will self-destruct in a few seconds.

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There’s no boom, though. As the name implies, the messages simply vanish. You can use this for text messages, memes, GIFs, stickers, and even reactions. Basically, just a bout anything you can send through Facebook Messenger can be set to simply disappear once everyone has read it.

Technically speaking, Facebook actually announced this feature in late 2020, but until now, it’s been limited to the U.S. and rolling out so slowly that not everybody had it. Further, since Vanish Mode has to be active for both parties in a conversation, even if you had it working on your side it was useless if the other person couldn’t use it.

Today’s announcement appears to open the floodgates, making the feature available globally. So, if you’ve been wondering where it’s been on your iPhone, it looks like the wait is finally over.

Vanish Mode can be turned on by opening any existing one-on-one chat thread and simply swiping up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in group chats, but that’s somewhat understandable, as we imagine it could make things pretty chaotic.

The first time you do this, you’ll see a welcome screen explaining how Vanish Mode works. Facebook Messenger will also switch into dark mode to remind you that Vanish Mode is enabled. Thereafter, anything you send while Vanish Mode is on won’t remain in the conversation after the other party leaves — provided they’ve actually read it. Turning Vanish Mode off by swiping up again will resume normal operation.

While in Vanish Mode, messages also can’t be copied, saved, or forwarded. Of course, the other person can still take a screenshot, but you’ll usually be notified if they do this.

Due to the obvious potential for abuse, Facebook Messenger also notes that you’ll still be able to report messages sent to you in Vanish Mode. This mode also won’t be available for people you haven’t chatted with before, so random folks sending you message requests won’t be able to use Vanish Mode.

Vanish Mode messages are otherwise end-to-end encrypted, so unless you choose to report a message to the Facebook Messenger team, your conversations will be completely private. Meta does note that Vanish Mode still isn’t available in every country, however, so you may still find places where you can’t use it; remember that the person on the other end also has to be able to use Vanish Mode.

Split Payments

As the world begins to return to some semblance of normalcy, Meta is adding a new Facebook Messenger feature to help split the bill after a night on the town.

You’ll have to be using Messenger’s payments system for this, of course, but if so, you can now easily divvy up how much each person owes, whether that’s for the tab at a restaurant or a shared gift.

To use this, just pop into a group chat, tap the + icon that’s used to add extra types of content, and tap the payments tab. A description of split payments will appear with a “Get Started” button. This will help you figure out the amounts for each person and then automatically request that they send over their share.

Facebook Messenger will also keep track of all the payments, so you’ll know when everybody’s sent theirs in, and of course automatically send it all over to your bank account afterwards.

As with other Payments in Messenger features, Split Payments are only available in the U.S. for now.

Improved Audio Features

Meta has also announced that it’s improving the experience of sending audio messages, with new recording controls that will let you pause, preview, or delete a message before you send it.

This will be even more useful now, too, since Facebook Messenger has significantly upped the time limit for voice messages. You can now send individual audio messages up to 30 minutes in length, so it’s easy to see why being able to pause and review your messages is going to matter a lot more now.

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