Facebook has found its way into almost every phone, with custom apps, a mobile site and entire operating system updates dedicated to accommodating Mark Zuckerberg’s social network.

Replicating all the features that Facebook offers is accommodated well on Android, with sharing options hooking into your photos, for example. 

The Facebook app has been on Android for as long as we can remember (even if it seems barely functional in its current guise). Breaking out from this comes Facebook Messenger, giving you your own app just for chatting to friends, supplanting the existing provision for Facebook Chat.

Facebook Messenger

Android Market

The app launched in the US back in August and has made it over to the UK for all to enjoy. Now, before you get exciting about something shiny and new, this is essentially a service you already have on your phone.

It replicates the Chat section of the website which appears in the corner of Facebook in a browser, with messages appearing in both places simultaneously. Facebook Chat has been part of the Facebook for Android app for a while, but Facebook Messenger is a much cleaner way to use the service as you don’t have to negotiate the rest of the Facebook app.

As such, we did find some oddities we’ve seen before with Facebook integration on Android. Notifications seems to be a slight stumbling block, as we found Facebook for Android (the main Facebook app) alerted us to some conversations instead. Tapping that notification takes you to Chat within the main app, rather than Facebook Messenger. 

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You can tell the difference between the two because Facebook Messenger uses its own logo, whereas Facebook for Android uses the face of the person talking to you, which to be fair, looks better. To resolve the problem, head into the settings of each app and you can manage the notifications.

Facebook Messenger is convenient, as you can take a conversation with you from desktop to mobile or vice versa. We found it had no problems when we switched between the two within the same conversation.

Conversations can be refreshed if you think something is missing, and pulling down the main list will update it, just as it does in apps like Twitter. You can include your location in messages, add pictures and things like links are live, so you can share URLs and the like.

We also like the fact that as a "new" app, it will log-in automatically (assuming you have logged in to Facebook for Android already) and your existing Chat history will be in place, so you can pick-up a running conversation on Facebook Chat previously or the previous incarnation of Messages on Facebook - we ran it back to 2007, which is quite a history of inane chatter.

When you select someone to talk to, you get the option of sending a Facebook Message or an SMS to a phone number. We found that SMS didn't work, returning the same error every time we tried it, that Facebook doesn't support sending SMS messages to this number.

Slicker, cleaner and more efficient than the existing provision for Facebook Chat, if you use Facebook to talk to your friends, then Facebook Messenger is a must - just make sure you tweak the notifications so you don’t stumble back into the wrong app.