Facebook Android Update: You Can Now Text Using Facebook Messenger; Messages Section Redesigned

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A lot of news coming out of Facebook today, it seems. This afternoon, the social network is also announcing a series of updates for Android users, which include improvements to both the Facebook for Android and Facebook Messenger apps. The news comes about a month after major improvements to the iOS version, which doubled the app’s overall speed in a number of key areas.

The updated Facebook Messenger application (Messenger 2.0) will include a new design for conversations, the ability to swipe in the app to see who’s available, and general speed and reliability improvements. The updated Facebook for Android app, meanwhile, will include many of the same features. Both updates are arriving in the Google Play store shortly.

Specifically, in Messenger, users can now swipe their finger to the left anywhere in the application to see which of their friends are online and available to talk. You can also add those friends you communicate with the most to the top of your Favorites.

In the main messages section, the design has been changed so it looks like an SMS application as opposed to the more inbox-like feel it had in the past (which the iOS counterpart still sports). On select Android devices, users will even be able to text with their contacts from within Messenger, allowing both texts and Facebook conversations to stay centrally organized in one app. That may help to ingrain the app into user’s daily routines.

This feature is currently supported on the HTC EVO 3D, HTC One X, LG Optimus Black, LG Optimus Hub, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Y. Facebook says that more devices will be supported over the coming weeks.

Facebook For Android Improved, Too

While most of today’s updates are focused on Facebook Messenger, the main Android application is also getting a refresh in order to mirror these same changes to the messaging component within its own interface. For example, it too, will feature the new SMS-like design for messages. There’s also a new button in the upper-right of the News Feed that will show who is able to chat, and when sending a message, the app will display who’s active so you’ll know whether or not your friend is likely to reply soon.

Facebook says the app has also been made more secure and stable, having addressed various bugs like the errors some users received during multi-photo uploads, with device starts and push notifications.

Both app updates should be in Google Play now. Soon? As of 12:30 PM PT, they haven’t yet gone live. Stay tuned. iOS updates will arrive later.

1:10 PM PT They’re live.