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Facebook Messenger Opens the Door to Developers

Facebook Messenger may soon offer a lot more than just messaging.

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Facebook on Wednesday announced Messenger Platform, a way for third party developers to build content and services for Facebook’s standalone messaging app, Messenger.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the news at the company’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco. He listed a few examples of projects Facebook already has under way, including the ability to use Messenger to track purchases you’ve made and even change orders by messaging directly with the retailer.

Facebook is also working to bring other types of messaging into the app, like GIFs and memes. Soon, you’ll be able to connect apps like Bitmoji through Messenger so you can easily send content beyond text through the app.

This strategy is already popular with other messaging apps, including Tencent’s WeChat in China, Tango, and Kik Messenger out of Waterloo, Canada.

The idea is that users, particularly young users, are looking for more features than simple messaging from these apps. WeChat, for example, allows users to do things like play games, make payments and even book travel through the app.

Facebook split Messenger out of its flagship app last summer, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said later that the reason for the split was so it would be easier to build other features into the product.

Facebook did just that last week by adding peer-to-peer payments to Messenger. Perhaps some of the other features Zuckerberg was hinting at will be created by developers outside of Facebook.

The Messenger business features are set to launch “in the coming” weeks with partners like Everlane and Zulily, said David Marcus, Facebook’s head of messaging products. More partners will be added in the future.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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