Facebook is cutting chat support from its main mobile app on iOS and Android, following up on its promise to split the Messenger functionality out and drive users to the standalone app. Facebook users are being notified from today with an in-app message warning them that, as of around two weeks time, they'll no longer be able to rely on the chat tab in the regular Facebook app.
Instead, if they want to keep talking with their friends and family, they'll have to install the standalone Facebook Messenger app.
Facebook has previously argued that the strategy of splitting out functionality into standalone releases is one that's better for users and the social network itself. An individual app can be updated more frequently, it claims, as well as giving important tools more chance of being noticed and used rather than buried as part of a more comprehensive app.
Of course, any forced change in usage behavior usually prompts some degree of push-back, and despite the warnings, Facebook is likely to encounter resistance from at least some of its members. There'll be a couple of escape clauses, such as having an old device that's simply not powerful enough to run the Facebook Messenger app, or opting to instead use the Facebook website, but neither is especially user-friendly.
Meanwhile, Facebook's Paper app will continue to have in-app messaging support.
Notifications of the change are going out from today to select users in Europe, with the eventual plan to shift everyone over to using two apps not one.