Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a forward-looking update to its stand-alone Facebook Messenger app for Android, allowing users to sign-up and begin sending text messages to friends for free and without even setting up a Facebook account. As Facebook's press release stated: "Starting today, you can create a Messenger account with just your name and phone number, and start messaging your mobile contacts." Here's a promotional image from Facebook of the new app sign-up page:
The move has been seen by tech pundits as Facebook's not-so-subtle attempt to compete directly with the paid SMS plans from wireless carriers and eventually, when Facebook updates its Messenger app for iOS with the same capability, other alternatives such as Apple's iMessenger service. Facebook is said to be releasing an iOS version of Facebook Messenger no-account sign-in soon, The Verge reported.