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The Facebook Messaging Empire - Messenger versus WhatsApp


Facebook isn't a social media platform anymore. The brand has expanded into so many other areas and absorbed so many other companies that even when the standard, antiquated platform inevitably goes extinct, the name will live on. Aside from various initiatives to increase internet access across the world, web messaging is perhaps their largest growth area, especially given that they now own the two most popular messaging platforms: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. 

The thing is though, with Messenger increasingly expanding into a platform that's split from Facebook itself, a platform which is constantly having exciting new features bolted on, an internal war is brewing. Most people tend to use both, but are rarely ambidextrous, one will always take precedent over the other and as both apps expand, it's fast becoming a matter of preference, instead of a matter of necessity. But which one is genuinely better? Obviously WhatsApp has no browser function so it loses out immediately there, but focusing purely on the mobile experience, many people prefer it.

One advantage WhatsApp has from the outset is better functionality in areas with poorer signal. Facebook Messenger really needs either a wireless connection or 3/4G to be a viable option for calling or messaging, whetheras WhatsApp messages will still get through when you're limited to E or GPRS, albeit slowly and with much of the other features cordoned off. Since WhatsApp is also mapped to your phone contacts, it is also far easier to call them through the app than it is through Facebook Messenger, which likes to keep everything in-house. 

Privacy options are also a big sticking point, WhatsApp allows you to toggle your 'last online' status, with the catch of not being able to see anybody else's when you switch it off. On Messenger you can appear offline, but won't be able to see which contacts are currently available, so it's pretty much a dead heat, with WhatsApp leaning more towards a constant 'message whenever' format, rather than the shorter, thicker conversations that begin when you sign in and end when you sign off, as with Messenger. Crucially though, Messenger only lets you know when a contact has seen your message (which can't be switched off) whilst WhatsApp shows when it has been sent, received and finally when it's been read, a function which can turned off.

Muting is a feature which finds both apps pretty lacking. Messenger has two mute functions: on and off, with no option to mute for a specific amount of time. Annoying, but still better than WhatsApp, which allows you to mute a conversation for 8 hours, a week or a year. That's literally it, no custom time, no on/off, just those 3 options, it's absurd, especially when you're part of a rolling group chat which you need to keep tabs on sometimes, but not all the time.

Contact synergy is one area which heavily favours Messenger if you're any kind of regular Facebook user. You can add your mobile contacts to it as well as having all your FB friends, but the reverse isn't true of WhatsApp. Messenger is also much better looking, if you ask me, the typeface is larger, cleaner and the interface doesn't have so many edges. Messenger also now allows you to transfer money in some parts of the world, which will place it leagues ahead for some people, as well as the file sharing. 

Bearing this in mind, Messenger is far better for professional purposes, but WhatsApp is the better option for more casual fare, especially since having someone as a WhatsApp contact also gives you their phone number. Facebook seem to realise this, since both apps are expanding in precisely those directions, but for video calling and conferencing, Skype remains the king.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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The Facebook Messaging Empire - Messenger versus WhatsApp Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, June 03, 2015 Rating: 5

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