Facebook Messenger’s Apple Music Chat Extension for Recommendations and Sharing Songs Now Rolling Out

Facebook's Messenger service was today updated with a new Apple Music chat extension, allowing Messenger users to link to Apple Music content to share songs and directly within the Messenger app.

The extension can be accessed by tapping on the "+" icon next to the text bar to add Apple Music to a conversation. There's also an option to interact directly with the Apple Music chat bot to ask for music recommendations.


Apple Music subscribers can listen to full tracks from Apple Music, while non-subscribers are able to share and listen to 30 second clips from any music track. There's an option directly within Messenger to sign up for Apple Music.

This feature appears to still be rolling out to users. While Engadget has access, we're not yet seeing full functionality.

Facebook first announced plans for both Spotify and Apple Music integration in Messenger in April of 2017. The Spotify chat extension has been available for months ahead of the launch of the Apple Music extension.


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Facebook Messenger Home Screen Ads Rolling Out Worldwide

Home screen ads in Facebook Messenger, which have been in testing in Australia and Thailand since January, will soon roll out to all users in a beta capacity, Facebook announced in a blog post this morning.

The Facebook Messenger home screen currently displays recent messages from friends, "Shared Days," Favorites, and friends who are currently online. When ads roll out, this screen will also feature tailored advertisements similar to the ads already displayed on Facebook and Instagram.
Today we're pleased to announce the global beta expansion of Messenger ads. People already spend time on Messenger interacting and conducting commerce with businesses and brands they love, and now with Messenger ads, they have an opportunity to discover experiences directly on their home tab.
Home screen ads will join "Click to Messenger" ads that drive customers to Messenger after clicking an ad in Facebook or Instagram, and sponsored messages, designed to let companies to send ads to users after an interaction to "re-engage."

According to Facebook, a "small percentage" of people will begin to see ads on the Messenger home screen towards the end of the month as the company begins to build ad inventory. Facebook says ads will gradually be extended to additional users over the coming months as it learns from the beta experience to ensure it is "continuing to deliver the best experience."

Global ads will be available to a select number of advertisers starting today, and those advertisers can begin to add Messenger to their ad campaigns.


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Facebook Messenger Gets Reactions and Filters in Video Chat, New Assistant Suggestions

Facebook this week announced it has added several new features to video chatting in its Messenger app for iPhone and iPad.


In both one-on-one and group video chats, Messenger users can now add or use animated reactions, filters, effects, and new masks, while Facebook has added a conveniently placed camera icon to take a screenshot of your video chat.

For animated reactions, Messenger users can choose one of five emoji icons: love, laughter, surprise, sadness, or anger. Tapping an emoji generates a related reaction that animates on the screen for a short period of time.


On the artificial intelligence side, Facebook has expanded the capabilities of Messenger's built-in "M" personal assistant, adding a "save it for later" function, birthday wishes, and call initiations, according to Engadget.

The personal assistant, which is currently available in the United States only, is designed to provide proactive suggestions in Messenger [Direct Link].


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Spotify Announces Group Playlists for Messenger

Spotify today announced a new mobile feature called Group Playlists for Messenger, which enables users of Facebook's chat app to create music mixes collaboratively within a conversation thread.

With Group Playlists for Messenger, users can create new Spotify playlists with friends and immediately begin collaborating to build out their perfect mix. Ideal for parties, road trips, or simply collecting new favorites, Group Playlists provide a seamless way for users to collaborate and share music more easily than ever before.
The new feature means Messenger users can create a Group Playlist, share it with friends, and add songs to it directly from within the Messenger app via the Spotify Chat Extension, which is available by tapping the blue + icon next to the composer.

By tapping the Create button at the bottom of the screen, users can give their playlist a name before sending it to the group chat session, where it will appear as a thumbnail preview accompanied by a button below to add songs.

While the person creating the playlist must be a current Spotify user, others in the conversation thread can add more songs to it, even if they aren't on Spotify. The Group Playlists extension can also be accessed from within Messenger using this link.


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Facebook Messenger Redesign Makes it Easier to Navigate, Find Online Friends, and Play Games

Facebook today revealed a new redesign coming to its standalone Facebook Messenger app for iOS and Android, with subtle UI changes that emphasize new features like games, while making it easier to see which friends are online and what notifications have been missed (via TechCrunch).

The main UI addition is the introduction of three new tabs atop the app for messages, active friends, and groups, which Facebook believes is a way to ensure that Messenger is "your hub for connecting with all the people and businesses you care about."

The company also hopes that the more prominent positioning of active friends encourages Messenger users to interact with people in real time more often, since it's easier to scroll through a list of online friends than before. The app now stretches to encompass the iOS toolbar at the top of the screen, instead of stopping below the bar as before.

Facebook Messenger's previous design (left) compared to its upcoming design (right)
These changes are designed to make Messenger simpler for you - to help you get to your contacts quickly, jump into your conversations where you left off, start new chats, and stay up to date.
The tabs at the bottom of the iOS app now have descriptions as well, including Home, Calls, People, and Games, the last of which is another new addition to Facebook Messenger. Games within the app launched earlier this month, allowing users to play a variety of single-player and turn-based games directly within the app, similar to a few gaming apps on the iOS Messages App Store.

One aspect of Facebook Messenger that's been decreased is its camera button, which used to expand above the dock at the bottom of the app but now sits flush and aligned with the rest of the tabs. Although the button now has less of an emphasis, Facebook Messenger's Snapchat clone, Messenger Day, is remaining within the app, and all of the camera's filters and masks will still be available to use. A Discover tab will be added as the app rolls out, in order to connect users with businesses, places, and services.

Facebook is also adding in iOS-like red dot badges for each new tab in Messenger, so whenever users log into the app and have a missed message or call, a badge will appear on the corresponding tab. The social network has begun doing this in its main app recently as well, urging users to tap on the new "Marketplace" and "Video" tabs with the same badges.

Facebook Messenger users can expect the changes to begin appearing on both iOS and Android this week.


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MasterCard Shopping Chatbots Now Taking Orders on Facebook Messenger

MasterCard added its digital wallet Masterpass to Facebook Messenger this week, enabling consumers to place online orders via the chat platform with just a few clicks. The rollout is still in the initial stages but the payment system is already available for some food merchants, including Subway, The Cheesecake Factory, and FreshDirect.

The transaction process involves searching for and interacting with a Messenger chat bot to specify the order from a range of options. The user then arranges a pick-up or delivery location, followed by checkout confirmation, where they pay for the order via Masterpass.


With 1.2 billion users on Messenger, MasterCard hopes the feature will boost fast food sales online by removing the need for consumers to type in their card information for every transaction. Instead, consumers load their card number and other identifying information onto the digital wallets and then use the wallets for faster shopping.

That said, users still need to input their password for every Masterpass transaction, so the system lacks the ease of use of biometric mobile payment systems like Apple Pay. MasterCard is said to be working on a similar solution.

MasterCard's plans to bring merchant transaction bots to Facebook's chat service where revealed in October. The credit card company also unveiled plans for bank bots, through which users can ask questions about their account, look at purchase history, monitor spending levels, receive financial assistance, and more.


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Apple Music and Spotify Chat Extensions Coming to Facebook Messenger

Facebook today announced plans to integrate both Spotify and Apple Music into Facebook Messenger, allowing Messenger users to link to Apple Music or Spotify content for sharing songs and playlists directly within the Facebook Messenger app.

Apple has not shared details on how its chat extension will work, but Spotify published a blog post detailing the Spotify chat extension, which will undoubtedly share similarities with Apple Music.


Using the Spotify chat extension, users can search and share Spotify songs, albums, and playlists. Song links will play 30 second clips, with users able to tap on a link to open the Spotify app to listen to a full song.

The Spotify bot, in addition to allowing songs to be shared, will offer up playlist recommendations to users based on mood, activity, and genre. It's not clear if Apple will introduce a similar feature.

Apple has made an effort to make Apple Music widely available on multiple platforms and services. It already integrates with the main Facebook app, and there's also an Android app and an iMessage extension.

Spotify is available in Facebook Messenger first, with Apple Music integration coming at a later date.


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Facebook Beats Apple to AI Assistant Chat Integration With ‘M’ For Messenger

Facebook announced its first virtual assistant on Thursday in the form of "M", which privately interjects in chat threads on Messenger to offer users suggestions related to the conversation.

The feature goes beyond the platform's chat bot technology, offering recommendations for relevant stickers, GIFs, payments, rides and meeting times now appear to each user above the message composer in chat threads. The service launched as a beta test in December but was rolled out to all iOS and Android users in the U.S. as part of an app update.


According to Facebook, M relies on AI machine learning techniques and is capable of learning the more it is used. Users can ignore or dismiss suggestions if they're not helpful, and the assistant can easily be muted it in settings. The full list of possible suggestions are as follows.

  • Sending stickers: M shares fun sticker suggestions for your daily life interactions like “Thank you” or “Bye-bye.”

  • Paying or requesting money: M recognizes when people are discussing payments and gives them the option of easily sending or requesting money.

  • Sharing your location: M can suggest an option to share your location during a conversation.

  • Making plans: If people are talking about getting together, M helps coordinating a plan.

  • Starting a poll (in group conversations only): Have a hard time making decisions in a group? M lets you set a poll topic and vote in group conversations.

    Getting a Ride: Talking about going somewhere? M suggests “Get A Ride” and shares an option of Lyft or Uber.
Apple is known to have looked at a similar implementation of Siri in its iMessage platform. A patent published last November for a "virtual assistant in a communication session" depicts a scenario in which users can invoke Siri from within chat threads to get answers to relevant queries, complete scheduling tasks, and more.


A rumor last month claimed that Apple plans to introduce Siri iMessage integration in iOS 11, which is expected to be announced at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference held in June. The feature is said to be part of a major upgrade to Siri's capabilities that would fit out the virtual assistant with powerful contextual learning abilities and iCloud integration.


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Facebook Launches Location Sharing Feature Within Messenger Called ‘Live Location’

Following in the footsteps of Google Maps and Find My Friends, Facebook today announced that users will be able to track their friends and family within Facebook Messenger using a new feature it calls "Live Location."

The hour-long location sharing feature is beginning to roll out globally today, and Facebook said it should help friends coordinate with one another when making plans, as well as notifying a significant other when you're on your way home. The plan-making focus falls in line with Facebook Messenger's recent Snapchat-like addition "Messenger Day."


Facebook gave users a step-by-step guide to the process of location sharing within Messenger, which they can follow using the steps below:

  • To share your Live Location in a message on iOS, tap the Location icon or tap the More icon and then select Location.


  • With today's update, you'll see a map of your current location and the option to tap a blue bar to share your Live Location.


  • If you choose to share your Live Location, the person or people you share it with will be able to see where you are on a map for the next 60 minutes.


  • You'll be able to see an estimate of how long it would take to get to others' locations by car. (The ETA is seen by the person with whom the location is shared.)


  • You can stop sharing your Live Location at any time; just tap Stop Sharing.


  • A small clock in the lower right hand corner of the map will also let you know how much longer you’re sharing your location for.

The social media company also mentioned that today's location sharing update is "completely optional" and that users "are always in control." Facebook has been beefing up Facebook Messenger over the past few months, previously adding Reactions, Messenger Day, group video chat, and more into the split-off messaging app.


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Facebook’s Snapchat Clone ‘Messenger Day’ Launches Worldwide With Plan-Making Twist

One of Facebook's Snapchat clones is launching worldwide today within Facebook Messenger, after a previous soft launch in countries including Poland and Australia. Called "Messenger Day," the new feature will allow Messenger users to post updates that disappear after 24 hours.

The twist with Messenger Day, according to Facebook, is that the app's filters and features encourage users to create new plans in the moment, instead of revisiting things your friends have already done like on Snapchat.


To facilitate this, Messenger Day includes a collection of photo and video filters -- like the time of day or call-outs asking to grab food -- that will provide appropriate context for friends viewing posts. According to Facebook VP of messaging David Marcus, who spoke with TechCrunch, this will let Facebook Messenger users snap a quick photo, add a frame, and see if any of their friends are up for going grab a coffee or watching a movie, without having to text individual people or post on Facebook itself.
"This is about today. It's not about yesterday. It's not about tomorrow" Marcus tells me. "The 2 key functionalities are 1. I'm going to set context because it's going to make for better conversations if people know where I am and what I'm doing. And 2. It's about where I want to take my day, like 'I'm bored and I want to go out for coffee' or 'I want to go see a movie' so I'm going to use a frame, take a photo, and see which of my friends are going to engage with me to actually make that plan, because planning is one of the core capabilities of a messaging app."
Like Instagram Stories, Messenger Day sits atop Facebook Messenger and shows the days of your friends in a row of horizontal icons that autoplay one after another when viewed. Users can interact with specific posts by sending a message to the poster, and an "Active Now" indicator will let users know who is online and available to meet up with in the moment.

All of the usual doodling options, filters, and stickers of other apps will also be found in Messenger Day. For its plan-making filters, Facebook said that there are over 5,000 of them, including invites to going for a run, grabbing drinks, and other activities. Users can even create custom filters through text.
This is where Messenger Day’s unique slant on Stories for messaging comes in. The searchable, categorized filters include calls to action like “Who’s up for grabbing coffee?”, “Road trip”, “Movie night?”, “Let’s grab drinks”, “Let’s go for a run”, and tons more. These make it easy and fun to invite friends to hang out with you offline.

And unlike posting “who wants to grab dinner?” on Facebook where a lack of responses could make you look unpopular, the posts disappear and all replies in Messenger Day are private so you don’t have to worry about seeming lonely.
Including Messenger Day, Facebook's Snapchat copying has grown to include Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status, and the yet-to-launch-worldwide Facebook Stories. Within Facebook Messenger, some users noticed recently that a few of the company's "Reactions" have been made available to respond to friends' messages, including a new thumbs-down option.


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