Update: Facebook has now rolled out the new Messenger app for Android and iOS users today. The app brings a complete redesign, very iOS 7 inspired, and offers a slew of new enhancements.
Download Facebook Messenger for iPhone here, Android here. – IH
Facebook is testing a completely overhauled design of its Messenger app for Android, making it look and feel more like iMessage for iOS than a traditional IM app. While the new version does away with direct SMS integration, it now allows users to contact those outside their Facebook sphere if they’ve volunteered their phone number.
Unlike Google, who is integrating SMS into its Hangouts app, the new Facebook Messenger will send an instant message to a Facebook friend like before, but if they’ve volunteered their number to the service will send messages to non-friends using data as well. Like iMessage, users can send photos and videos to members who aren’t your Facebook friends but who have used the app and volunteered their phone numbers.
The new Facebook Messenger shows whether users are online with a small badge around his or her circular profile. If they’re not online, or don’t have Facebook Messenger for mobile installed, it will still go through to their desktop.
Facebook Messenger is also getting an updated, lighter look to separate it from the main Facebook app and to encourage users to think of it as a separate service rather than an extension of the social network itself.
The app is rolling out to a few thousand Android users starting today, and if nothing goes wrong will show up on all Android devices in the coming weeks. No word on whether it will hit iOS users, too, but we’re betting it will.