Facebook’s Messenger app has surpassed five billion downloads on the Google Play app store. The latest development also means that Messenger on Android became the third non-Google app to clock five billion downloads following the Facebook app in 2019 and WhatsApp in early 2020. The growth of the instant messaging app can be attributed to the rapid adoption of video and messaging platforms amid the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, during New Year’s eve 2020, Facebook Messenger saw its biggest surge in group video calls (three-plus people) in the US, with nearly 2X more group video calls on NYE compared to the average day. Messenger is also the native messaging app for the Facebook app on both Android and iOS. It received its biggest update in August last year when Facebook started integrating the chat systems for Instagram and Messenger.
According to Android Police, the latest occasion makes Messenger the fourteenth app to hit the five billion mark on Google Play, joining the likes of YouTube, Google Maps, and Gmail. However, readers must note that several Google-made apps come pre-installed on Android smartphones, therefore, naturally taking the toll high. Notably, Facebook Messenger was the most downloaded free app of 2018, as per data analyst App Annie. In 2020, Messenger had the third most daily active users (between January to October 2020) though it was the sixth most downloaded free app.
Earlier this month, Facebook stated that chats on Messenger and Instagram Direct would be end-to-end (E2E) encrypted by default by 2022. With end-to-end encryption, users’ private messages will be accessible only by the sender and the recipient, and even Facebook cannot access those messages. “Over the past year, we introduced a number of privacy and safety tools, including more privacy settings, an app lock, safer message requests, message forwarding limits and more. We’re also working hard to bring default end-to-end encryption to all of our messaging services," Facebook said in a blog post. Currently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp only offers E2E encryption for both individual and group chats.