The Facebook Messenger team is on an A/B server-side testing spree. It's only a couple of weeks ago that we reported how some users had spotted the app with a new Material Design makeover, but it seems that this wasn't the end of the Material improvements. And that's not even the only modification that's being tested for some users. There's the return or SMS integration and multiple account support too. Here's the breakdown.

Blue Action And Status Bar

Instead of Messenger's white action bar with the blue icons and blue indicator line, a few users have been seeing an inverted color gamut. The action bar is a nice deep blue, the icons and the selector are white. The status bar follows along, becoming blue too.

The below screenshots show the full Material layout with the FAB, but it looks like another variant with Messenger's bottom blue bar is being tested as well. It's anyone's guess which Material layout the Messenger team finally lands on, but it's nice to see it experiment with different iterations to see which one works best for most users.

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SMS Integration

That's sure an interesting one. A long, long time ago, Facebook Messenger was a dual client like Hangouts, for both instant messaging and SMS. But then the app got updated and removed the SMS integration because it "just didn't take off." Well, the Messenger team might be dabbling with the idea of bringing SMS back to the app.

At least one user is seeing a new SMS setting pane and has been able to use Messenger as his SMS client. A purple color is adopted as a visual differentiator for SMS messages inside conversations and the text input box shows "Write an SMS message" to remind you that you'll be using regular SMS. In the conversation list, the blue Messenger bubble next to users' photos is replaced by a purple bubble with a regular white envelop.

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Our tipster tells us that unfortunately, SMS and Messenger threads from the same user don't get combined like they do in Hangouts. That might be a conscious decision to avoid confusion, or an early alpha missing feature.

Multiple Accounts

And finally, another potential addition to Messenger is multiple account support. I barely use my one and only Facebook account, so I can't fathom how someone can have multiple ones, but I know those people exist. And for them, Messenger might soon offer an Accounts page in settings where they can add more accounts and switch between them.

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If you don't see any of these changes, there's nothing you can do to trigger them. They'll either flip magically for you or not.

Whether any of these modifications makes it out to everyone is up in the air. For now, we've only received some sparse tips about each of these features, so it looks like the Messenger team is still in the very early testing phases. The Material redesign looks like it's the more mature feature for now, and thus a candidate for the first option to go live for all users.

  • Thanks:
  • Thomas Erlandsen,
  • Elias,
  • Paul Kelcz,
  • Ben