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Facebook turns Messenger into a shopping platform and app store

Caitlin McGarry | March 26, 2015
The social network is changing the way you install apps, shop, and watch videos with new tools for developers.

zuckerberg f8 2015 move fast

Facebook's mission of connecting the world is really about connecting everyone to Facebook, even when you're not actually using the network. At the company's annual F8 conference for app developers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced new tools that will bring the apps you use, the news articles you read, and even your clothing purchases directly into Facebook.

Messenger as a platform
A key piece of Facebook's efforts is Messenger, the stand-alone messaging app that now has more than 600 million monthly active users. The company's new Messenger Platform lets you install and use third-party apps directly inside Messenger. When a text, photo, video, or sticker just won't do, you can now bring apps like Giphy, JibJab, Ditty, and Magisto Shot into Messenger to send song clips, GIFs, and other media to friends. The experience as demoed at F8 was a seamless one: Install the app, select something, then tap to send. That tap will take you right back into your Messenger conversation.

More than 40 apps will be integrated with Messenger in the coming weeks and months, including a badass-looking special effects app from JJ Abrams' Bad Robot production company and an ESPN content app.

Facebook is also turning Messenger into a shopping platform where you can text businesses and they'll respond instantly. When you place an order on a clothing site like Everlane, the site will offer you the option to receive updates about your order on Messenger. Instead of sending you a new email with every update, like an order confirmation, shipping information, and delivery notification, Everlane will send you a Facebook message. You can respond to those messages with questions about shipping and returns. You can even place a new order with the Facebook thumbs up.

Other apps have attempted business messaging--including a major play by Path last year--but those efforts have essentially replaced you with a person who calls a business on your behalf. Facebook is attempting to replace a business's pathetic web chat with Messenger, so you don't have to pick up your phone to ask questions: Just text them.

Messenger for Business is still in testing with selected partners like Everlane and Zulily and will launch in the coming weeks. More businesses will jump on board in the next few months.

Changes to comments and videos
As rumors swirl about Facebook's plans to host news articles and videos on its own platform, eliminating the need for you to tap or click through to a news site, the company just made it possible for people to embed videos posted to Facebook on third-party sites. That functionality was already available for posts and photos, but not videos.


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