Facebook Messages new release (with bugs)
Words by Traction Alumni, Khai Nguyen
Back in January of last year I wrote a post about the new Facebook Messaging platform. In short, it was Facebook's new way of integrating all the many ways people communicate: email, text, instant messaging. The idea is that messages are messages. The experience you have on your phone, in text, or email should all be integrated. It has been called the "Email-killer."
But when it launched, it certainly was not the "Email-killer." Not even close. Even if you could get past all the technical bugs (and there were many), you probably couldn’t get past the features you can't do without from regular email like filing email, adding subject lines to email, deleting email quickly, searching email content, sending email to anyone...and the list goes on.
Fast forward almost two years later and Facebook has rolled out their latest update to Messages, which for some reason isn’t released yet to everyone. Like two years ago on their first release, I seem to be on some sort of special rollout distribution.
So what's the buzz this time about Messages? It's definitely an improvement, but still lacks a lot of features that you might find valuable. Below are just some highlights of this new update:
1. Message anyone, no really this time—looks like they have finally fixed a major bug they had in the last version that prevented you to email people who did not email you first.
2. Left-hand message preview window—taking a cue from Apple, the left-hand side of the interface allows you to see photos of your friends who sent you messages and a short preview of the message.
3. Right-side content writing—the area where you write your message is now moved to the right hand side taking up the majority of the space. You can see a running history of messages from the recipient. This seems to work fine if you send text-based messages. It doesn't seem to work correctly when sending attachments and text-based messages (read more about the bugs further down this post).
4. Add multiple photos to any message, and see them inline. This is a big claim that they make, but as you will see later in this post, this is not actually the case. From what I was able to test, you can send photos as attachments just fine but sending photos through the photo selection tool doesn’t seem to work correctly (read more about it further down this post).
So the downside… there are a number of fails worth mentioning:
1. Search feature does not search the entire contents of the message very well. For example, I typed in "techcrunch" to pull up messages that had URL's I had sent a couple days to friends from an article I found on TechCrunch. When I hit search, it said "No people or conversations named techcrunch." The search does seem to work well when trying to locate conversations using their names. It does however show you results from other users and from pages you like (this seems odd to me).
2. Sending photos from their photo selection feature does not work. I tested this on both the latest Safari and Chrome to no success. I used multiple email addresses as well to no avail. This is a big bug that I think they must fix for their full release. The only way to send photos is to send them as attachments and not from their photo selection tool.
3. Messages all have the same subject line. From a personal use, this is not all bad. But if you plan to use Messages for business, you will find it hard to keep track of all your emails if you use Gmail or Yahoo (because all your emails will have the exact same subject line.
4. Sending multiple messages within one window does not seem to work yet.For example, when I send the first email with an image attached, it goes through fine. But then I type a simple message of just text, that message doesn’t seem to go through. The only work around to this is to create a new message each time.
Despite all these fails, I do like the new interface. It feels much more like a real communication tool. It's not quite the "Email-killer" but it’s definitely one step forward.