Big Facebook Messaging Changes

At a press event today in San Francisco, Facebook announced a new design for their messaging system, and plans to roll out @facebook.com email accounts. The new Messaging system is essentially a hub for all of your messaging: Text/SMS, IM, E-mail, and Facebook messages.

Over the next few months Facebook will be rolling out the new messaging service that allows you to gather all your text based correspondence in one place. What Facebook is trying to do with this new service is streamline the way we communicate. Instead of checking your e-mail, then logging into your IM, then logging into Facebook to check your messages, you'll be able to do all if right from Facebook.

To get a better understanding of what this means, let's use grandma as an example. She doesn't have a Facebook account, but she sends e-mails like a crazy person. In order to see those e-mails we have to log into our e-mail client, such as Yahoo Mail. With the new messaging service, when you link your e-mail to your Facebook account, any e-mails that you get will now be sent to your messages folder in your Facebook profile. Within that folder you will have Friends, Other, and Junk subfolders. When you receive an e-mail from someone on your friends list, it will automatically show up in the thread/conversation you have with that person in your messages. Those e-mails from Granny, will show up in the Other folder, but you can move the conversation with her to your main Friends folder. Junk mail and SPAM will obviously show up in the Junk folder. When you see the e-mail, you'll be able to reply in real-time straight from Facebook, just as if you were using Facebook's current chat feature.

The same goes for all of the ways we communicate; aside from video and voice communication. If I send you a text message from my phone, and I'm on your friends list, it will show up in the friends section of your messages, in our personal thread/conversation.

The new system is already compatible with IM services like AOL Instant messenger and MSN Messenger. Facebook says that the integration of IMAP e-mail accounts like Yahoo Mail and Hotmail will be coming soon. The new messages service will also bring a new app to the iPhone, allowing us to be even more engulfed in our Facebook accounts. Unfortunately, the new messages service is available by invitation only for the time being, and no specific date on when it will be available to general users was announced.

So what do you think? Is this the Gmail killer that the web has been claiming it to be? Or is it exactly what we need to manage our day to day chattiness?

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