For many people, chatting to friends is a major reason to use Facebook’s app on their smartphone.
But soon they will have to download the social network’s partner app, called Messenger, to carry on their instant conversations.
Facebook is reportedly notifying users of its popular app that they will soon no longer be able to send ‘chat’ messages and will instead have to swap to Messenger, which was launched three years ago. It follows the company’s acquisition of popular texting app WhatsApp for US$19billion.
People living in Europe with Android handsets and iPhones will be the first to be affected by the change, according to the company, which did not reveal a specific timeline.
‘Messenger is a much faster and better experience and we’ve found that people get replies 20 per cent faster on Messenger than on Facebook,’ a spokesman for the company told CNN.
‘Taking messages out of the Facebook app also lets us focus on making Messenger even better for everyone rather than working on two separate Facebook messaging experiences.’
The company halted messaging in the main app for people who have already downloaded Messenger in November, following the launch of Messenger 3.0.
The Messenger app works in a similar way to Facebook’s core message feature, and users will tap a ‘message’ icon within the main app to be directed to Messenger.
Facebook has indicated that it is taking renewed interest in its messaging features following the WhatsApp takeover.
WhatsApp is particularly popular outside America and lets people send unlimited messages for US$0.99cents a year.
It has been widely reported that Facebook has no immediate plans to merge WhatsApp with Messenger. MailOnline is awaiting a response from Facebook.
Both services, as well as many more, are becoming a mainstream alternative to texting, particularly in parts of the world like Africa, India and South America where unlimited texts are not included in mobile contract bundles.