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Facebook Messenger on Android makes private group texts popular again

by Kristen Nicole

Facebook’s mobile strategy has been lagging on the Android side, but yesterday’s Messenger release hit Android and iOS on the same day. Already the app is climbing charts, with tens of thousands of installs since launch. The app lets you send and receive real-time messages with individual friends as well as groups. Photos and location can also be shared in this manner, and one perk for location-sharing is that it can now be done in a more private manner. The best part is that not all participants are required to have the app installed in order to receive your sent messages -- they’ll be delivered via SMS, Facebook Chat or the regular Messages tab.

Group messaging gets more private

Messaging is a growing aspect of mobile applications, as there’s several points of integration for orienting tasks through phone contacts. Adding more management tools around our phone’s contacts will further streamline on-the-go correspondence, which could involve actions beyond sending a text or photo update. The more social our phones allow us to become, the more ways we’ll see messaging tools interact with contacts and other apps on our Android devices. Facebook’s new Messenger app is surely another move against Google+ and its privatized messaging capabilities, though its downfall is that it operates as a separate app in the Android Market.

Of course, the next step in messaging is global support. Group messaging tool textPlus is headed to Canada, where mobile users are already highly engaged, especially around messaging. textPlus has seen some rampant growth in recent months, with more than 50 million users across 193 countries. GOGII, the company behind textPlus, tells us that their platform handles over 60 million messages on a daily basis, so we can only imagine what Facebook Messenger will have to take on once users get into the swing of things.

Apps expose sensitive data to hackers

But as important as apps are, they’re still in their infancy as far as security standards go. Messaging apps are extremely personal apps containing private information and conversations that are shared on an individual basis. As apps become even more personalized, security concerns will only continue to rise. Researchers from the viaForensics group in Chicago have found that certain apps are storing sensitive data like passwords, email and credit card numbers, in plain text on your phone’s memory. That’s a goldmine for hackers, and several popular apps, including Foursquare and Groupon, are inadvertently making user data accessible to cyber-attacks. Apps are becoming new gateways to our personal lives, in ways we have yet to imagine. We’ll need to find a balance if we’re to survive the evolution of the mobile app ecosystem.