“If we were to rebuild the social network today, we would do that around messaging,” head of Messenger consumer products Asha Sharma said during her keynote at Facebook’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday.
Sharma detailed Facebook’s plans to make Messenger “the fastest communication app on the entire planet” with Project LightSpeed, a through rebuild of the application on a new code base that will result in a faster (well under two seconds to start up) and slimmer (less than 30 megabytes, or 70 MB less than the current app) Messenger later this year.
“We are rewriting the entire thing from scratch to deliver the best messaging experience there is,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his keynote.
A new Messenger desktop app for Windows and MacOS is also being tested, with plans to roll it out globally later in the year.
The desktop app will offer the same features as the social network’s flagship messaging app for iOS and Android.
Sharma also discussed other new features that are coming to Messenger.
Facebook is developing a dedicated area in the app for content from the friends and family members that people message the most, including Stories, images, videos and other features that are under development.
Sharma pointed out that the amount of time spent in video chat on Messenger is up 40% year-over-year, with 410 million people using the feature monthly and 2 billion minutes spent each day using the app’s video products.
On that note, Facebook is testing a feature that enables people to watch videos together, in real-time, on Messenger. Users can seamlessly share videos from the Facebook app via Messenger and invite friends to watch together while messaging or video chatting.
The social network plans to roll this feature out globally later this year.
Two new features that help people and businesses connect on Messenger are also being added to the app.
Lead-generation templates are being added to Ads Manager, giving businesses a way to create ads that will drive people to a simple question-and-answer session on Messenger where they can learn more about potential customers.
And an appointment experience is being added to the app so that people can book times with businesses such as car dealerships, hair stylists and cleaning services within Messenger conversations.
“Appointment booking has been one of the most popular use cases on Messenger Platform,” Sharma said, adding that over 40 million businesses are currently active on Messenger Platform, along with some 300,000 developers that are building on it, and 20 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses on Messenger every month.