Downloading a separate app is now a requirement, not an option, in order to send and view Facebook messages on mobile.
The social network announced in April that users would soon need to download Messenger, the company’s standalone messaging app, in order to send private messages from their smartphones.
That time has come, as an initial wave of U.S. users learned on Wednesday. The flagship app will still alert users when they have an unread message in their inbox, but they won’t be able to act on it from their smartphone without the Messenger app.
Facebook first tested the idea of requiring two apps in Europe earlier this year, but the transition to U.S. users only began last week. Once a user opens messages within the flagship app, a seven-day grace period begins during which Facebook will remind and encourage users to download the other app (if they haven’t already done so). At the end of seven days, that user will be required to download Messenger in order to send and read private chats.
The move allows Facebook developers to focus more exclusively on features and improvements for each individual app. Of course, it also requires users to download another Facebook property onto their smartphones, a not-so-subtle way for the company to increase app downloads.