In what is seen as the biggest transition ever for Facebook Messenger, the instant messaging application no longer requires a Facebook account while signing up.
If you are new to the app and do not have a Facebook account, you can simply sign up for the messaging application using your name and phone number. Of course, there will be some limitations for those who use the app without a Facebook account, but it certainly is a major step forward in getting more users onboard.
Facebook is currently testing out the new feature in select geographies. Users in Canada, Peru, Venezuela and the United States can take advantage of the Facebook-free sign-in to Messenger. The feature will be rolled out to other markets later.
"With this update, more people can enjoy all the features that are available on Messenger – including photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling, stickers and more. All you need is a phone number," Facebook Messenger software engineer Louis Boval wrote in a post on Wednesday.
How does it work?
Facebook's new feature for Messenger works like any other app that connects users with their phone numbers. But the social network site has taken a step forward by letting users chat with people who might not have shared their phone numbers with Facebook. Users will be able to upload their phone contacts on to Messenger to connect with them through the app.
"It's kind of an augmented address book," head of Messenger David Marcus told TechCrunch. "You have all of your address book and then you can search for everyone on Messenger."
By adding the new feature for Messenger, Facebook hasn't forgotten those who already have accounts with the social network site. Such users will have added benefits of connecting with friends, checking Facebook messages and take advantage of cross-platform, multi-device messaging.
Facebook Messenger has grown extensively in the recent months. Currently, the messaging application has more than 700 million active users and the latest move is likely to lift it even higher. The user base grew more than three-fold since last year, when Marcus took control of operations.