Facebook Inc (FB) on Wednesday opened up its Messenger service for developers to create apps and for consumers to communicate directly with retailers, in the social media network's latest effort to expand its reach.
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The push to transform Facebook's messaging service into one that operates independently of the company's social media network comes as it faces intensifying competition from Twitter Inc (TWTR) and Google Inc (GOOGL), as well as from fast-growing messaging apps such as Snapchat and WeChat.
Facebook unveiled the new features at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, for the first time allowing developers to create apps that function inside the Messenger app, which has more than 600 million users.
Forty different apps will be available on Messenger in the coming days, allowing users of the service to send each other sports clips and animations, Facebook said.
Another feature will allow consumers to use Messenger to send a text message to make a restaurant reservation or to receive a notification that a product purchased online has shipped.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Richard Chang)