With Chat Heads, Facebook Messenger found a nifty way to let you juggle multiple conversations without having to jump back and forth between apps. Since their introduction in 2013 (yep, those bubbles are that old), Facebook has so far relied on a custom overlay solution. But with the latest beta, Messenger is switching to Android 11’s native Bubbles API, though not a whole lot is going to change for end-users.
Spotted by a Twitter user, Messenger’s latest beta app has a new setting for enabling the Bubbles feature. Toggling it on will take you to the next screen, where you can pick the conversations for which you want to see these floating heads. The app’s Android notification settings also show the new Bubbles sub-category where you can tinker with the options.
Messenger’s notification shade has also got a new icon, as shown in an included screenshot, to switch back to a chat bubble in case you’ve dismissed it unintentionally. As a user, not much would seem different after the new implementation; you’ll still get collapsible bubbles that you can interact with and move around the screen as usual.
To get this working, you have to be on Android 11 developer preview or beta with Messenger version 222.214.171.124.118 (beta) installed. XDA could confirm that the feature works on both the Pixel 4 XL and 3a XL.
The Bubbles API debuted with Android 10’s developer previews last year, but it remained almost dormant until Android 11 enabled it by default. With native support in Android 11, you can expect to see a more consistent behavior across apps that tap into the new API.
On stable too
It looks like Facebook has been testing the Bubbles API for a while now; it even rolled out the feature to some users on the stable app. Our tipster could confirm that the Bubbles toggle on stable Messenger has been live for a few weeks.
- JD Thayn