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Amongst the various instant messaging (IM) apps available, statistically, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp appear to be the leading and most popular services around the globe.

Both apps are owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Company, despite offering almost similar services to their users. In general, the two apps currently control about 80 percent of the global IM market. The CEO of Facebook Company, Mark Zuckerberg, has categorically insisted that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will retain their independent identities.

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Before being turned into a standalone application in 2014, Messenger was initially integrated in Facebook and as such users got to access its services via the mother application. WhatsApp on the other hand was founded and created in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum. In February 2014, the Menlo Park-based firm acquired WhatsApp while retaining its founders for approximately $19 billion.

With availability on both the iOS and Android platforms, WhatsApp and Messenger are free and their services are offered over the internet at no extra charges.

Log in requirements

To use the services on the two downloadable apps, there are certain requirements needed. For WhatsApp, you only need a phone number to access the app whereas Messenger requires users to log in using their Facebook credentials. With the latter app however, users can authorize access to the service using their phone numbers as well – this will sync Facebook contacts and phone contacts with the Messenger application.

User interface 

Messenger’s UI is well defined into particular sections with distinct symbols; Clock symbol for Recent messages, List symbol for Contacts, Cog symbol for Settings and the Heads symbol is meant for Groups. These clearly distinct sections enable users to quickly navigate to the desired areas and also portray a good organizational scheme for the app. WhatsApp’s interface on the other hand is not that organized and looks crampy. There are no differentiated groups and individual contacts as in Messenger and locating specifics can be hectic at times.

Features available

Both apps offer instant messaging (both individual and group chats), sharing of multimedia files and voice calling services. In Facebook Messenger, however, you can search for an image online and use it in your chat. With Messenger’s “Photo Magic” users are reminded to share pictures with friends that are on a given photo. Further, users will soon be able to send self-destructing messages that will make the experience on the app more fun.

Messenger integrates “Businesses on Messenger” that enables the users to have one-on-one interactions with business organizations. This feature is not available directly on WhatsApp; however, a number of organizations have improvised a system whereby they get their customers’ contacts and engage them in chats. Developers are also allowed to create apps that are supported on Messenger through Messenger Platform. This further opens the messaging service for more exploitation and experience. Users are also allowed to send money directly to other contacts right from the Messenger chats – this feature is however limited to some regions.

Video calling is also another feature on Facebook Messenger that allows the users to participate in calling their contacts in video mode. This feature has really been embraced by a large number of users on the app. Rumors are, however, doing rounds that the feature might soon roll out on WhatsApp.

Another key pillar that WhatsApp is banking on is being ad-free. No ads are allowed on the application and this has been said to help raise the application’s popularity as many people get upset with various ads that keep on appearing on their pages.

General verdict

Despite having a record of nearly a billion users, WhatsApp still has more to do in order to achieve the level of organization and features offered by Messenger. Facebook Messenger on the other hand, with over 800 million users, offers a much better experience than its WhatsApp counterpart. It will be interesting to see how these two apps fare on this 2016 and beyond.