A new update to Facebook's standalone messaging app, Messenger, on Monday includes a new camera option for taking photos within the app. A camera icon above the keyboard surfaces the phone's camera, which can also be flipped for front-facing photos (selfies!).
Users can still send photos the old-fashioned way within the app by attaching an existing photo from their camera roll, but the new in-app camera allows users to do so without having to leave a conversation. Users can also upload and send videos from the camera roll, a feature that was unavailable before Monday's update.
Facebook's Messenger update includes new icons above the keyboard and an in-app camera for real-time pictures.
This is yet another example of a social network making it easier for users to share photos and videos. In what almost feels like an industry-wide push, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have all been building messaging services in which photos are a major means of communication.
However, Monday's update adds several key features that Facebook rivals do not yet offer. Twitter users are able to take photos within the app, but they can't send videos. Snapchat users can't save the photos or videos they receive, and the one-touch element of Facebook's camera update may inspire more off-the-cuff pictures usually reserved for a service like Snapchat (e.g. selfies and goofy pics).
The benefit to Facebook, of course, is keeping users within the app. Even when you attach an image, you are momentarily taken away from the conversation screen. The in-app camera literally replaces the keyboard, which means users can still see the actual conversation thread while taking a photo.
The downside of the one-touch feature is that you can't edit or retake a photo if you don't like the outcome.
Here's a revised look at what Messenger now offers users:
  • Send individual or group messages
  • Save favorite or often-used groups for future use
  • Free phone calls to Facebook friends using Wi-Fi
  • Can send photos from camera roll
  • Can send video messages
  • Can take photos within the app