I predominantly use Facebook Messenger to contact friends and family. A few days ago, I discovered Facebook Messenger Lite - a lightweight form of the Facebook Messenger app for Android only. I decided to switch to this app to find its pros and cons and give a comparison between the two.
I’m aware that there are tonnes of blog posts on Facebook Messenger vs Facebook Messenger lite, however, some are old and outdated (stating that video calling doesn’t work) and others are just long and overcomplicated. To keep it concise*, I’ve provided the following table:
*(I feel like blog posts which compare two things should have a table which summarizes the main points - whenever I look for comparisons in blogs, I look for a table for a quick comparison.)
|Facebook Messenger||Facebook Messenger Lite|
|Emojis||No emojis (Only the “like” emoji)|
|Secret conversations||No secret conversations|
|Complex, cluttered interface||Clean interface|
|Gif browser||No gif browser|
|Chat colors||Default color only|
|~120MB in app storage||~25MB in app storage|
Despite being a computer scientist, I use emojis to quickly express my opinion on a topic of conversation (saves having to think of an actual response). I much prefer Facebook Messenger’s emoji system - it’s super convenient and intuitive, you press the emoji button (or go to the emoji tab) and it gives you a little table of recognizable, easy to identify emojis to select from. However, the Facebook Messenger Lite app does not have native Messenger emojis. Instead, it uses the in-built Android emojis (which to be honest aren’t amazing). However, Android emojis can be used and will be displayed as regular Facebook Messenger emojis to the receiver.
The changeable “like” button in the bottom right hand corner stays as a “thumbs up” emoji. This was a minor inconvenience for me, since in our group chats, we tend to use that main emoji to share banter. Instead, I just have this plain ol’ thumbs up.
Yeah, Facebook Messenger Lite doesn’t have secret conversations or games. But to be honest, when was the last time you ever used a special one-to-one encrypted secret conversation with self destructing messages? It’s probably one of the features that I’ve used the least and to be honest, I wouldn’t miss it one bit. If I want self destructing messages, I’d probably use Snapchat.
Facebook Messenger’s games never really appealed much to me. Sure, they were entertaining for a bit and it was nice to have a challenge against some friends, but to be honest, if I wanted to play games, I wouldn’t really use Facebook Messenger as my “multiplayer gaming app”.
Group chat colors were a fun little gimmick to bring some life to a conversation. But after dealing with group chats which would argue over what color they want their text to look like, it made me wonder: who cares about chat colors? All I want is a simple messaging app to send messages to people. I don’t care if your message is green, blue, yellow or purple!
I believe that Facebook Messenger’s interface is pretty cluttered. One of the features I dislikes the most was Your Day which changed the whole layout of the app. I didn’t like the change - I just wanted a simple messaging app. I don’t want to share “my day” and I never liked the idea that Facebook just pushed this feature out onto the users of its messaging service. I don’t stand alone on this, there have been posts about the controversial feature, and many have tried to disable it entirely.
The random advertisements, the discover tab for finding bots, it’s becoming more and more cluttered with features which are hardly used and unwanted. SMS integration for Android devices? Android phones come with a built in SMS app - most of them which cannot be uninstalled (due to it being a system application).
Facebook Messenger Lite with its simple interface sets it aside from Facebook Messenger. Simple, intuitive and clean. My favourite expression (which I learnt from a computer scientist teacher), is that “80% of people only use 20% of available features for an application”. I believe this applies to Facebook Messenger - there’s a lot of features which I’ve never used, and have never seen others use before.
So, Facebook Messenger is a mess. If you like using all of the features, Facebook Messenger is for you. If you can deal without emojis (or using the terrible Android emoji keyboard) and want a simple messaging app that lets you stay in the loop, try Facebook Messenger Lite.
Personally, after switching to Messenger Lite, I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of it and can deal with losing a few minor features. Since I spend more time on my computer than my phone, I use Messenger online which is somewhat between the two separate apps and satisfies all of my required needs, and using Messenger on Android just to stay in the loop when I’m out and about.