Big changes are coming to Facebook Messenger, covering everything from photo and video sharing to user privacy. The changes are rolling out from today, although it may take some time for everyone's account to be updated.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade is the switch to end-to-end encryption as the default option for conversations – this had previously been available as an option in individual chats, but will now be automatically applied to all conversations and audio and video calls.
As on other similarly secured messaging apps like WhatsApp, end-to-end encryption means only you and the person or people you're chatting to can see the conversations – so no one else can intercept or unlock your communications, including staff at Meta, malicious actors, and law enforcement agencies.
The existing disappearing messages feature is getting tweaked, too: all messages now vanish after 24 hours (previously you could customize this), and Meta is making it easier for users to see when disappearing messages are enabled. You'll be alerted if anyone tries to take a screenshot of a disappearing message, too.
In addition, Messenger is now joining Apple's iMessage in letting you edit messages after you've sent them. You get a 15-minute window after a message has been sent to revise it, if you've made a glaring typo or want to change the tone of your latest communication.
Another change is that read receipts can now be switched off, if you don't want other people knowing when you've seen their messages. As is the case with other messaging apps, there's a trade-off: you won't be able to see read receipts from other people either.
Photo and videos will now be shared at an “upgraded” quality, Meta says – so expect files that are less compressed when you share them around. Photos and videos will be easier to access in the Messenger interface, with some “fun” layouts applied when you share them in batches, and instant reactions to photos and videos are being added too.
Lastly, voice messages are going to get controls for variable speed playback, and the app will now remember where you left off in a voice message if you come back to it later. Voice messages will also continue to play if you navigate away from the chat or the app.
All in all, it's a big range of upgrades that'll be welcome for regular Messenger users, even if it might not convince others to switch from WhatsApp or iMessage.