Facebook Messenger’s app store is here, and it sucks

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Facebook Messenger's app platform is off to a pretty 'meh' start. Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

Facebook is building its own kind of app store around Messenger, or so was the pitch at the social network’s F8 conference last week.

But now that the new platform, which manifests itself as a list of approved iOS apps that integrate with Messenger, is out in the wild, it’s not that impressive.

“Messenger Platform enables developers to easily build apps that integrate with Messenger; so that the more than 600 million people who use Messenger can find new, fun ways to express themselves with GIFs, photos, videos, audio clips and more,” wrote Facebook in an announcement last week.

Facebook teased an update to Messenger in Apple’s App Store that would be coming soon with the new app platform, and it became available today.

When you’re chatting with someone, a new ellipsis button opens the “More” section where all the apps that have been approved to hook directly into Messenger are available. There are 40 apps listed now, and more will be added over time.

Facebook isn’t doing anything special here with how you find or get apps. It’s literally a list that sends you to the App Store.

ESPN is included, but the majority of the supported apps are related to sending GIFs, selfies, stickers, or a combination of the three. I downloaded GIPHY and a couple others to test out, and the app icons were wrapped in the same Messenger branding. That means apps on your home screen that use Facebook’s SDK will start having the same white border and little blue icon. Gross.

Photo: Alex Heath/ Cult of Mac
Photo: Alex Heath/ Cult of Mac

In the case of GIPHY, there’s just a big send button to share a GIF in Messenger. You can reply in Messenger with another GIF, which will send you back to the GIPHY app.

Not exactly mind-blowing app integration.

Photo: Alex Heath/ Cult of Mac
Photo: Alex Heath/ Cult of Mac

There could be a day when Facebook Messenger is the glue that binds a bunch of your favorite apps together. I’m still interested in the business aspect of Messenger that will let you chat with companies about stuff like tracking a package or modifying a recent order. But for now, Messenger isn’t any more exciting than it was before today’s update.

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  • OhStopItYou!

    LOL you don’t know how to use it. It’s pretty sick. Give Ditty and ClipDis a try. The amount of programming that went behind it must have been insane. (or maybe it just works better on Android :p )

  • David Alexander Harrison

    Is this another iOS-only offering from Facebook at the moment (much like “Facebook Paper” that never spread beyond iOS in the US, despite being well-reviewed & so something they logically should’ve expanded to other platforms/countries)?

  • Robert Abba

    Ok the icons are a bit of a annoyance, I agree that they aren’t really needed, but I understand where Facebook is coming from…there are many people that are wasting data on loading a whole site for what…a gif that the does not app supported? This is Facebook basically saying: “Hey, get your backsides in gear devs, the 21st century of technology and development is beginning to picking up gear…and quickly, so get with the times!”. I also fail to see how this is a bad update. Everyone needs a bit of advertising…otherwise no one would get anywhere. I noticed in your article that you mentioned that you GIPHY has a send gif to Messenger…I want to point out that’s more than most apps let you do. Normally you’d have to copy n’ paste the link. As much as I agree with this icons needing less of the FB branding, I don’t agree with the rest of this post…however this is my opinion

  • Crabou Chacha

    “Not exactly mind-blowing app integration.”

    In fact, it is a technical limitation. iOS’s App Extensions launched in iOS 8.

    (And THANK GOD there is such limitation otherwise Facebook would in the end own iOS. Note @Apple : Slippery road my friend…)

    As a result, ANY iOS app that integrate with Messenger could also virtually intergrate with any other chat app. (As long as that chat app supports GIF, etc.)

    Facebook made it look like they invented the concept, but there are just using a very simple published api. As an exemple, you can log in ANY app using 1Password App Extension without having to actually quit that app. Same with editing a photo with EyeEm from ANY other photo app without quitting that app, etc.

  • PitchBlack

    Facebook is all about the bullsh*t when it comes to trying to monetize you.