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Facebook's VP of Messaging Products David Marcus speaking at F8's keynote. Facebook

The reason why Facebook wanted people to get Messenger is now clearer

It’s now a platform, and Facebook has big plans for it.

WHEN FACEBOOK REQUIRED users to download a new app if they wanted to send messages on their phone, many were annoyed with it – but for Facebook, there was a purpose behind it.

Part of its problem is getting more people using homemade apps outside of the main Facebook app, and one of the solutions was moving people onto specific mobile apps.

Messenger was one of those services and with 600 million people using it every month – the app accounts for more than 10% of mobile VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling globally, according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg – it’s taking its next step forward.

At F8, Facebook’s developer conference, Zuckerberg launched Facebook Messenger Platform, a way for developers to create and incorporate apps specifically for the service.

For now, it’s focusing on apps that complement instant messaging, so 40 apps like Giphy, JibJab and Bitmoji will be available to install and use on the service.

3-install-from-conversation Facebook Newsroom Facebook Newsroom

The other major change with Messenger wasn’t a technical one but a shift towards businesses.

The company sees a future where you can message businesses directly, but instead of asking them how their day is going and making awkward small talk, you’ll be messaging about orders, inquiring about when an item will ship and modifying a purchase after it’s made.

It also allows you to complete purchases within the app if the company in question already has your details on file. Businesses on Messenger will launch in the US over the next few weeks.

messenger_business-2 Facebook Messenger for Business will focus on conversations among customers and retailers. Facebook Facebook

Both moves are Facebook’s attempts to make Facebook Messenger front and centre of your mobile experience.

While it has many rivals in the space, apps like LINE and WeChat in Asia aren’t just instant messaging apps, they contain their own ecosystem of apps allowing users to play games and carry out transactions within the service.

Messenger has taken its first step towards becoming like this, with the latest move and the introduction of Payments last week, but it has a long road ahead.

FB 3 The current number of users on each of Facebook's services (groups has 700m users). Facebook Facebook

Of the other announcements made, 360-degree videos will soon be making their way onto both Facebook’s news feed and Oculus Rift, the VR headset it acquired last year for $2 billion.

A keynote dealing with VR and the progress both Facebook and Oculus Rift has made so far will take place tomorrow.

Read: Don’t want sites tracking your activity? Here’s how you can ask them to stop >

Read: These fake Apple employees try talking people into buying rival products instead >

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