News by Dan Seifert on Tuesday August 09, 2011.
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Facebook has taken its acquisition of group messaging service Beluga and parlayed it into a standalone messaging app for the iPhone and Android smartphones called Messenger. Messenger takes the best features of Beluga and integrates them into Facebook's existing messaging system, while providing one-stop access for all of your Facebook messages in one location.
The app does exactly what you would expect it to do based on its name, it groups your Facebook direct messages and chats and allows you to access them without having to trudge through the regular Facebook app to do so. It also makes use of push notifications to alert you to new messages when you are not inside the app.
The Beluga side of things allows you to create group chats with your Facebook friends and contacts within your phone list. If a message is sent to a Facebook friend, they will receive it in their Facebook inbox, while non-Facebookers will get an SMS message. Outbound texts will come from one of Facebook's short codes instead of your actual phone number, which might not be that convenient for the recipient. Features such as a map of your friends whereabouts and muting for periods of 1 hour or until the next day are available as well.
The new Messenger app is expected to be available for the iPhone and Android handsets today, though it is not available just yet. Check out Facebook's page on the new app for more details.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.