Facebook Messenger’s new home screen puts the focus back on messaging

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Facebook Messenger is being updated across both Android and iOS with a refreshed, simpler look that puts an emphasis back on messaging. The app “is now organized around making Messenger your hub for connecting with all the people and businesses you care about,” according to VP David Marcus. The revised home screen layout certainly makes more sense than the bloated, confounding mess that’s on my phone right now. Across the top are tabs for Messages, Active, and Groups. Pretty self-explanatory. Messenger’s blatant Snapchat clone, Messenger Day, still gets a huge chunk of screen real estate beneath that, though.

The bottom of the app has sections for Home, Calls, People, and Games. Marcus says there will soon be a Discover tab down there, as well. This is where I complain again: I wish Facebook would let people hide or get rid of the functions of Messenger they’ll never use. I’ve never interacted with a single bot; I’ve never played a game. I love Instagram stories and will never enjoy Facebook Messenger stories.

I long for the days when Messenger was a lightweight, dependable chat app. You could convincingly argue it was a better app two years ago than it is today. Why must it do so much? Why does the thing need an entire games tab? It was annoying enough before when the Games section would reappear on my home screen no matter how many times I’d previously dismissed it. That said, not everything’s bad. I’ve seen some of the suggestions from Facebook’s M assistant pop up in my conversations lately, and those are somewhat helpful. A lot of Messenger’s features — sending money, making voice and video calls, etc. — make sense. But others are a definite reach.

Facebook says this new Messenger look will roll out globally this week on both major mobile platforms. Maybe I’ll start using it on my phone more now that the home screen makes sense again.

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