Facebook Unveils Distinct Mobile Messaging App For Group Chats, Texts

As it has rolled out a series of improvements to its messaging features, Facebook has been trying to encourage its users to think of its network as a better alternative to e-mail and instant messaging applications. It took that strategy a step further Tuesday with the release of a new mobile messaging application that is separate from the regular Facebook application.

Messenger should be available for both iPhone and Android users later today, Facebook announced in a blog post. It’s a byproduct of the Beluga acquisition from earlier this year, and builds on the new messaging features that Facebook introduced last year. It’s designed to be used as a group-chatting application or a simple hub for Facebook messages delivered from inside the social network or to one’s facebook.com e-mail.

It’s an interesting gambit, separating the messaging aspect of Facebook from the regular news feed by creating two separate applications. But it shows how Facebook is starting to put the pieces together to become a mobile platform in much the same way it has created its own ecosystem on the regular PC-based Internet.

The messaging app might also be a sign that Facebook’s eventual plan to shift more of its mobile development toward the HTML5 mobile Web standards is still a ways off.