When Facebook launched Messenger for iOS in 2011, I was a little skeptical – this was before the brief and mighty wave of unbundling – but grew to be cautiously optimistic, because Messenger was a good and simple app that removed most of the cruft from Facebook and focused on what I cared (and care) about most: talking with people.
Here’s Messenger in 2011:
Here’s Messenger in 2017:
(Three of my five ‘favorites’ I’ve never talked to on Messenger.)
By the way – that red circle in the top left? That’s not an unread message or mention: it’s a dark pattern poking me in the side to enable notifications:
I am confident that the designers behind Facebook Messenger are intelligent and talented. I know they have had long discussions, arguments, and analyses – with careful consideration and data – that led them to produce the app they have. I hope they are proud of shipping what they’ve shipped.
And what they’ve shipped is a product that is featureful, sophisticated, and powerful. There are so many things to do! It is an engagement casino, all flashing lights and free drinks and slot machines waiting to be pulled.
Also what they’ve shipped is an app that bewilders and saddens me – an app no longer built for my use case. I can still chat people on it, of course – it’s not like they took anything away. But I open Messenger now and I just feel exhausted.
Maybe that’s on me – I think I’m a fairly reasonable person, but its entirely possible that I’m too myopic for the audience Messenger is now trying to cater to. And that’s not their fault, but I’ve removed Messenger from my phone because it’s just not worth the mental energy.
From now on, I’ll just use messenger.com, which is lovely, simple, and performant.
(It also, as far as I can tell, has not been touched in several years. Facebook folks, if you’re reading this – please do not ruin messenger.com for me. It is perfect just the way it is.)