Facebook Messenger is striving to be the default messaging app on iPhone and Android

FB Messenger

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Facebook Messenger wants to become the default messaging app on iPhone and Android, Messenger VP David MarcustoldCNBCWednesday.

The chat app has integrated a slew of features over the past 18 months aimed at creating a messaging experience superior to those offered by rival apps and native services, such as Apple’s iMessage and Android Messenger. 

A big part of Messenger’s strategy is leveraging AI and in-app automation to offer a more personalized, tailored experience for each user. Here are some examples: 

  • Messenger’s virtual assistant M can now suggest automated responses, GIFs, and movie tickets, all within a conversation in Messenger.These suggestionsadd convenience and value to the user experience while broadening the chat platform’s functionalities. 
  • Facebook acquired AI startup Ozlo to augment the capabilities of M.Ozlo’s iOS app helped users find local restaurants in a conversational manner.Messenger bought the app in July 2017; it’ll helpM better understand users’ conversations, and provide more intuitive suggestions.
  • Facebook launched Messenger Platform 2.1 with new tools and features. The updated platform emphasizes built-in support for AI offerings like natural language processing, a payments software developer kit (SDK), and a seamless way to switch between chatbots and humans.

The goal is not only to upend the way friends converse, but also to replace the 1-800 number for businesses. The app already has more than 1.3 billion monthly active users — as more users join, businesses will follow as they attempt to reach consumers where they’re spending their time. Messenger introduced Objectives on Tuesday, a tool to help businesses initiate conversations with users through the app.

Still, Messenger faces an uphill battle against native messaging services, which remain at the heart of the smartphone experience. That’s because native messaging services are becoming more like chat apps. For example, RCS, Android’s next-gen messaging service, is aimed at enhancing current SMS capabilities with many of the same features that instant messaging and native messaging apps provide to a smartphone. Adding RCS to Android devices, and specifically to Android Messaging, could help Google push back against Facebook’s evolution into a quasi OS that competes with Google services.

Laurie Beaver, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has written a report on the end of apps that assesses the evolving app landscape, examines how the existing app model is threatened by the decline of broad app usage, profiles the promising new tech in the space across Apple, Facebook, and Google, and explores barriers standing in the way of user adoption.

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