By Tracey Dowdy
Facebook Messenger has certainly grown up since it was introduced back in August of 2011. Originally designed as a way to send a private message to a friend rather than posting publicly on their wall, Messenger has morphed into a stand alone app that offers far more than the privacy of a direct message.
Check out these Messenger features that you may not know about.
Send money for free. Currently only available in the U.S., Facebook allows users to send money through Messenger via a debit card registered to your profile. There are no fees for the service and the card is easily added via the settings menu. Users must be 18 or older and a US resident with a US debit card registered to your account.
Pause notifications for Group messages. My friend Mike would rather eat broken glass than participate in a group chat, so I can’t help but think he was the inspiration for this feature. Click on Options in the group chat and choose a predetermined time to mute notifications (15 minutes to 24 hours) or select “Until I turn it back on.” You’re welcome Mike.
Play chess with a friend. Open a conversation with a friend and type “@fbchess play” to start a game. It’s a little bit of a challenge but if you’re playing chess you’re already pretty smart, right? Players move pieces by prefacing each move with “@fbchess”. To move your pawn, type “@fbchess Pe4” and the game will move your pawn (p) to space E4. Type “@fbchess help” for instructions.
Play basketball. Just as in real life, playing basketball is less complex than playing chess. Open a conversation with a friend, send the basketball emoji, then tap on the message to open a game. Swipe the ball up to the hoop and earn a point for every shot you make. If you miss, play switches to your opponent and sends your score for them to beat. It’s simple and fun, though I quickly learned I’m as bad at ‘phoneball’ as I am at basketball.
Customize Messenger. If you’re using iOS, tap on the name at the top of the conversation and on Android use the “Info” button. You can give your friends nicknames, change the color of the conversation, or add emojis and gifs to the conversation.
Make a call. Messenger allows users to make free voice or video calls to other users as long as you’re connected to the internet. If you’re not on Wi-Fi, data charges may apply. For voice calls, tap the phone icon at the top of the conversation; for video, tap the camera icon. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Make a group VoIP audio call from any group chat. Tap the phone icon, add the group members you want added to the call and everyone will receive a Messenger call simultaneously. If you miss the initial call, you can tap the icon to join in at any time the call is still live, see a list of others included and ping anyone who still hasn’t joined. Calls can include up to 50 participants. What a relief! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to talk to 50 people at the same time.
Save to Dropbox from within Messenger. Tap the “More” button within the app and Dropbox will appear as one of the options. From here you can browse your Dropbox directory without exiting Messenger. Users can send videos and images including GIFs and these will be displayed in the chat but other types of files require opening Dropbox in order to preview and save.
Add captions or drawings to your photos. Tap the photo icon in the menu and select a photo from your library. Tap “Edit” to open the image. Choose “Aa” to add text or the squiggly line on the right to add drawings or free hand text. When done tap “Send” in the top right corner.
But wait, there’s more! By tapping the three dots in the menu bar below the conversation, you open a whole world of options. You can share music through Spotify, request a ride from Uber or Lyft, make music videos with Ditty, or create cards and other nonsense through JibJab, plus many, many other fun possibilities.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.