Facebook Messenger’s mobile app for iOS is about to shrink. The company said today that it is working on a new version of Messenger that will be fewer than 30MB (or about 20 percent the size of the current app). The new version of Messenger, which is expected to arrive later this year on iOS, was rewritten from the ground up, the company said. It should launch in two seconds or under, the company said. There are currently no plans to bring it to Android where Messenger Lite has been available since 2015.
The move represents Facebook’s latest step to return Messenger to its lightweight roots. After years of expanding into bots, payments, games, and areas, the app had become cluttered and slower to navigate than rivals like iMessage and Signal. It grew so large that it was unusable in countries where data is still prohibitively expensive, leading Facebook to introduce Facebook Lite on Android. Last year, the company introduced a redesign intended to streamline the app.
Speed is among the most important requirements of any messaging app, and companies prioritize it accordingly. iMessage, for example, barely has any startup time at all. As Facebook shifts its focus to private messaging, it makes sense that the company would bring renewed attention to speed and ease of use. (It might want to look next at the Facebook flagship app, which currently clocks in at 259.5 MB.)
A smaller footprint isn’t the only thing Messenger is getting. Facebook said today that it is introducing a new space inside Messenger that’s devoted to your close friends and family. The space is early in development, Facebook said, and it is unclear what features it might include.
Facebook is also adding a feature to let you watch videos with your friends in an effort to make Facebook more of a video destination at a time when it has struggled to gain traction against YouTube. The feature will let you share videos you find on Facebook to Messenger and invite others to watch along with you and trade messages about it. The feature is expected to arrive later this year.