In its efforts to extend the reach of its messaging platform, Facebook is planning to release a desktop version of its popular mobile Facebook Messenger app, allowing Mac users to easily access the chat service without having to rely on a web browser.
A Facebook blog post was first spotted by iGeneration this morning, and although it has since been removed, the site was able to capture and report on the few details that were available before they disappeared. According to the blog post, as captured by 9to5Mac, the desktop version will offer the same feature set as the mobile version, including group video chat.
We’re also launching a desktop app for Messenger that’s available for both Windows and MacOS. People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most. You can download Messenger Desktop — and enjoy the same features as the app on your phone — like group video calls, collaborate on projects or multi-task while chatting in Messenger. We are testing this now and will roll it out globally later this year.
Facebook is expected to make the actual announcement later today at its F8 developers conference, so the blog post will likely reappear soon, perhaps with additional details as well. Currently, the only image available is a screenshot of the Windows version of the app (displayed on what rather oddly resembles a MacBook). The announcement also suggests that the desktop version of Facebook Messenger will be able to take advantage of other features provided by a larger screen, such as allowing users to watch a video and chat about it in real time, as well as creating a “virtual lounge” where friends can hang out online while sharing multiple videos from the main Facebook app.
Facebook is also planning several other improvements to its messaging platform, including slimming down the Facebook Messenger application to improve performance, and unifying its messaging network across Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, although this latter move isn’t expected to be finalized until next year. Once completed, Facebook is also promising end-to-end encryption across all conversations.
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new stronger privacy focus for the company, which would not only include solid encryption for conversations, but also features like ephemeral messaging, expiring messages, and more private interactions. Facebook played with ephemeral messaging several years ago with its Snapchat-competitor, Facebook Poke, but the app never hit the mainstream, and the social network never chose to move any of those features into its main Messaging platform.
At this point, most of these bigger changes are expected to occur over the next few years, so it’s uncertain what Facebook will be announcing for Messenger this week, or what the timeline will be. Even the desktop versions of Facebook Messenger aren’t expected to arrive for end users until later this year, while the bigger security and integration features will likely land well into 2020 and beyond, largely because Facebook — which Zuckerberg candidly admits doesn’t know much about how to do online privacy — wants to take the time to consult with outside experts and privacy advocates to make sure it gets it right.