Facebook Messenger, though, already celebrates a “the billion-user club” milestones that it achieved in past summer; it still is looking for new ways to increase app usage. The latest attempt is the introduction of “conversation topics” – a feature that offers suggestions for what to talk about with friends. These conversation starters are seemingly based on the Facebook’s larger social network, as they reference what your friends have been doing lately – like events they are interested in, places they’ve been to, and so on.
The feature was first spotted by Chris Messina this weekend on his iOS app. He later posted to twitter about the feature.
— 🕸Chris Messina (@chrismessina) October 16, 2016
The suggested topics have their own dedicated section on the homescreen. It appears underneath a friend’s name in the new section. To the right is Messenger’s activity indicator, which shows you when the person was last online.
In the embedded link above, Messenger displays the places the friend in search had recently visited, like the Grand Canyon.
In other cases, the suggested topics might include the song the friend just listened to on an online music streaming site, or a Facebook event that they are interested in.
— (((Dan Simpson))) (@iamthedans) October 11, 2016
A more usable version of Google Allo’s “suggested replies” feature.
Apparently, this is currently only a small test Facebook is conducting, which is why not that many people are currently seeing this new section in their own Messenger application at this time.
The idea behind such a feature definitely claims benefit for the users who are looking for a way to break the ice with a new Facebook friend or catch up with an old one.
In addition, the feature would have the added benefit of being a more basic News Feed of sorts, as it lets you catch up on friends’ recent activity, without having to scroll through News Feed and its clutter of shared links, posts from Facebook Pages, ads, and other content.
From a market perspective, the move by Facebook can be seen as a more refined (read practical) version of Google Allo’s “suggested replies” feature.
It’s also worth noting that this Conversation Topics feature isn’t the only thing Facebook is working on in order to better connect Messenger users with those who share similar interests. In September, Messina had also spotted code buried in the Messenger app which pointed to a feature called “Rooms.”
This appears to be an attempt to build public chat rooms on Messenger’s platform around shared topics and interests, and likely has ties to Facebook’s earlier “Rooms” project, now shuttered, which was an experiment in anonymized social networking on Facebook’s part.
It’s unclear for the time being if the Conversation Topics are in any way tied to Messenger’s plans to debut public chat rooms, however.