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Facebook Messenger has hit a new milestone this year, reaching 800 million monthly active users.

The number has shot significantly from 500 million in November 2014, 600 million in March last year and 700 million in June. The messaging platform was in fact the fastest growing app in 2015. Moreover, it only trails Facebook as the most popular iOS app. It also transmits over 10 billion pictures per month. In 2016, the platform aims to accomplish more tasks and become self-fulfilling. These include buildinga chatbot platform; making SMS irrelevant; allowing sending messages offline; improvingartificial intelligence and make chatting an enjoyable experience.

Facebook Messenger’s accomplishments in 2015

Last year was a busy year for Facebook developers who were not only working to improve the functionality of the Messengerapp but also to bring in new features. The accomplishments in 2015 include new features that include video calling, online buying and selling, Photo Magic, customer service platform, chatting with non-friends, allowed third parties to deliver content and communicate directly to their audiences,M virtual assistant, integrating with Uber for transportation service as well as availing Messenger services to people without Facebook accounts. The year also saw improvements on functionality, among them improved location sharing, reveal caller/messenger identity and enhancement on speed.

Facebook plans for Messenger in 2016

Eliminate the phone number

In the U.S., Messenger is behind SMS services only, standing tall above all other messaging apps including Google Hangouts and the famous WhatsApp.David Marcus, head of Messenger, thinks SMS isobsolete in the smartphone era. Messenger will continue with its efforts to persuade people from SMS by bringing in media features like stickers, photos, payments, apps, location, GIFs and transportation. Now you only need to know someone’s name to communicate with them across Messenger, basically, eliminating the need to know their phone numbers. Messenger has a directory of everyone enabling communication with anyone connected to internet.

Allow users personalize conversations

Facebook values the social nature of human beings that’s why it’s working to bring in more tools to enable you personalize your conversation in your style and tone, bring in other types of conversations, customize threads with more feelings, just like in WhatsApp.

Innovation -Artificial intelligence

More innovations are to come from Messenger this year. AI based personal assistant M is still in its early testing stages but very promising in its progress. M which combines both computer and human intelligence could help Facebook understand what people expect of Messenger apart from the usual messaging.  This could possibility lead to improvement of Messenger to make it understand natural language, copy dictation as well as read messages aloud.

Build delightful products

Facebook, in 2016, would wantto build interesting featuresthat solve real life problems. The social network has started to implant some creativity on Messenger platform,introducing some background graphics and interesting emojis accompanying threads thus differentiate the platform from robotic casual SMS.

Replace app with threads

Facebook aims to relievepeople of the odds of doing things in different places instead of doing them in one place where their identity can be remembered. You don’t need to log in every time as well as download many apps that are usable only once.Therefore, it is exploring ways to integrate with businesses or services to buy items, order cabs, book airplanes and talk to customer service with fewer hassles, just from Messenger chat threads.

Predictionsof possible additions to Messenger in 2016

Develop a defining feature on video calling

Even though Messenger has online audio and video calling feature, it’s not as popular as in Skype or FaceTime. Tomake it distinct, launching a group video calling is probable. Video calling has become popular on mobile, though it’s still gawky. FaceTime is available only for iPhone while Skype is not offering the best experience yet. This could be a viable niche for Messenger to exploit.

Explore ways to facilitate offline meeting

The company is expected to continue to support Nearby Friends’ mission which seeks to discover friends available for meeting offline. Unlike Google’s efforts (“Who’s Down” and Danny Trinh’s startup)to find friends for users for Hangouts which failed, Facebook is expected to excel in this sector.

Build chatbots to ease load on threads

Facebook will probably avail a platform for building bots rather than clouding everything in threads. M will lead as an example in the road to accomplishing the aforementioned. Facebook has granted some designersaccesses to a new Chat SDK that help them build bots. The company is definitely looking to monetize Messenger through this chatbots that automatically respond to text messages.

Maintain the youthful users

Facebook intensified focus on its messaging platform than on the main social network could lead to lose of the younger client base.Hence it is expected to draw some hints from Asia’s counterparts KakaoTalk and Line to add some youthful flavor. Thoughsome of these features may be assumed by adults, they are important to teens.