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Facebook for Android update pulls new icons, acts like nothing ever happened

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Facebook's latest update removes the icons added in version 1.9, leaving little trace of an intention to compete with the big names in mobile messaging.

Facebook Messenger Android
Facebook Messenger Android

On Saturday, Facebook made an update to its Android app that removed the the icons it introduced in late April — icons that were so similar to their stock Android counterparts that the company felt it was necessary to put a Facebook badge on them. The company had introduced a new camera icon, called "Camera", and updated the Messenger app with a new icon which appeared eerily similar to the stock SMS icon.

The latest update notes that the icons were removed, but neglects to give a reason why. Some have come to the conclusion that the icons were confusing to users, which isn't surprising given the situation. With the default settings, the app drawer in Android sorts applications alphabetically. This means that because Facebook named their camera icon "Camera," it would appear right after the stock camera icon. Similarly, the Facebook Messenger comes right after the stock SMS app "Messaging." Facebook tried to side-step the issue by including badges on the icons, but apparently this remedy didn't go far enough.

When you consider the conspicuous naming and placement of Facebook's icons, and that the updated Messenger icon looked almost identical to the default SMS app, albeit in blue, it's difficult not to read between the lines. The new features included in the April update, like improved group messaging and contact sorting, bring the app closer in functionality to iMessage and BBM, and it isn't difficult to imagine that the social network could have flirted with the idea of competing with them directly, for however brief a time. While we don't know what Facebook's true intentions are, it's clear that the company intends to keep users aware of its mobile messaging platform.