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


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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