Riding the wave of last week's Facebook Mobile update, Facebook Messenger — the standalone instant messaging app for iPhone and Android also got an update. While Mobile's upgrade was a desperately needed speed improvement, Messenger's three new features add fun and convenience — but also a potential roadblock to quick messaging.
Facebook has added a selection of popular emojis — smileys, hearts and other Japanese-styled icons — that mobile users have come to love as a quick way to express themselves without words and to add a note of emotion to a message. Emoji apps like Emoji by iToyToy.com are free and are added to your device as an alternate keyboard, accessible by tapping a world icon key installed on your regular keyboard. While a big thumbs-up sends an obvious message of support, what a spouting whale adds to a message is a mystery.
In any case, Messenger emojis can be found by tapping the plus button next to the message box. Anyone who has downloaded emojis onto their iPhone or iPad already had access to the full selection of emojis through their keyboard, which has not changed, but including emojis in the app eliminates the extra step of bringing up the keyboard if all you want to do is send emojis, like a quick "kiss."
You can now see when your friend was last active on Facebook. Go to the New Message screen, select a contact and when they last used the app appears under the name. Times range from an hour up to several days, which will give you a pretty good idea of how long it might take for your friend to respond. If your friend has the app open, you'll see that too.
Facebook also touts new instant access to your contacts' Facebook Timelines , but this feature can bog you down. Tap a contact's name to open a dialogue box that reads "View Timeline." You must be signed in to the regular Facebook Mobile app, otherwise you will be asked to login. And be forewarned, once you open Timeline, you can't get back to Messenger without double tapping to view your open apps — no swiping back Messenger.