Facebook is taking "a stab at reinventing the inbox" with a new Facebook Messenger mobile inbox experience.
In a keynote at the Wired Business Conference today, Facebook VP of Messaging Products, David Marcus, said Facebook is redesigning the home screen experience in Messenger away from infinite scroll and toward a small, curated collection of recent threads. The new Facebook Messenger experience organizes the app into a few distinct sections: active users, favorites, recent conversations, messages you haven't responded to yet, and upcoming birthdays, all of which is based on the concept of threads, Marcus said.
"The inbox has always been this chronological list of threads. That's a lot of real estate to use on mobile, when maybe only the first five threads are relevant to you at any given time," said Marcus. "We're launching a more modular inbox within the new home screen on Messenger."
Marcus said the new Messenger Home screen plays into Facebook's view of the mobile experience getting smaller. The list of apps people use regularly is dwindling, he said, so Facebook Messenger is ideally positioned for users and businesses to provide an experience far better than the mobile Web without the need to download excess apps.
"When you think about how many apps you've downloaded recently, how many have a home on your home screen and have push notifications enabled, that list is getting smaller and smaller," said Marcus. "We believe messaging apps enable you to potentially leverage threads as a space for third parties to build experiences with rich identity and context."
The Buzz Around Bots Marcus also said that since Facebook announced Messenger Bots at its F8 developer conference, the hype has run a bit rampant. Facebook believes it's going to take a long time for a machine to have a conversation with users in a truly humanlike way.
That said, Marcus believes Facebook Messenger's 900 million users and 15 million business pages make it ideally placed to create a user experience that's not an entirely conversational user interface, but a hybrid one combining bot conversation with rich embedded information like a receipt, shipping notification, or flight updates right there in the thread.
"We believe the future of interactions between businesses and people will exist within a thread that's canonical, contained in one historical, contextual place," said Marcus. "We want to enable all businesses and developers to have a shot at building engaging experiences where people can access the right information at the right time, and we believe Messenger is the right place to do that."
As for the bots themselves, Marcus said he doesn't know if they'll become our "friends" anytime soon, but what they will do is act as a more competent combination of the businesses they represent.