Meta’s leaning into the rising use of Messenger to conduct audio and video calls, with a new, dedicated ‘Calls’ tab added to the lower function bar in the app.
As you can see here, now, in addition to the ‘Chats’, ‘People’ and ‘Stories’ tabs, you’ll also have a new ‘Calls’ section, where you can connect with friends via Messenger’s calling options.
Messenger says that audio and video calling has grown at a rapid rate, with over 40% more daily callers in the app now compared to early 2020, while globally, more than 300 million audio and video calls are conducted on Messenger every day.
As such, it makes sense to put more focus on this as an option, in order to facilitate more direct engagement, while it also expands on Messenger’s usage without forcing in new elements like Games, shopping, etc.
Which Meta has done in the past. In 2016, Meta made a big push on Messenger bots, before launching a separate tab for Messenger games, among other functionalities, in an effort to build Messenger into a broader use tool.
As you can see here, are one stage, that lower function bar was getting pretty crowded.
Meta acknowledged this in 2018, when then Messenger chief David Marcus vowed to get back to the app’s roots.
“Over the last two years, we built a lot of capabilities to find the features that continue to set us apart. A lot of them have found their product market fit; some haven’t. While we raced to build these new features, the app became too cluttered. Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year.”
That eventually lead to the Messenger layout we have now, with simplified tab exploration and streamlined discovery. In essence, Meta conceded that most people don’t see Messenger as anything more than a messaging app, which was a blow for its broader plans to monetize messaging in a range of new ways.
Instead, it had to go back to the drawing board, and now, with new usage behaviors evolving, it’s moving more in line with usage, as opposed to trying to broaden its market fit.
The growth of calls in Messenger makes sense, given its simplified video and audio connection tools, building onto your existing chats and connections, and this new tab will help to facilitate this – though there’s not a lot of direct benefit for Meta’s business push.
Maybe, through more immediate direct calling, that will help to provide enhanced connection opportunities for brands, but the main impetus is regular users and enhancing existing activity trends.
Meta says that the new tab is intended to ‘create a space for people to deepen their relationships with their friends and communities through shared experiences’.
It likely will succeed on that front, driving more connection within the Messenger app.