With reports that Facebook was looking to acquire popular cross-platform messaging service Whatsapp just about settling down, the social network now appears to be taking it on directly and has opened up its Messenger service to allow users to sign-up using just their name and mobile phone number.

Making signups friction-free, Facebook hopes that you will be able to “reach your contacts faster, start group conversations, share photos and more,” loosening the bond with its main Android app to function as a messaging service capable of connecting with over a billion users worldwide.

The beauty of Messenger is that it connects to Facebook accounts on mobile devices and the Web, allowing Facebook to connect users no matter the device or computer they are using. There is no word on an update for iOS or other mobile platforms, but we have reached out to Facebook for more information.

If the Whatsapp rumors were false (the startup says they are), this might be the reason that Facebook only briefly flirted with acquisition talks. By opening up the app to users with just a name and number — and not a Facebook account — users can concentrate solely on connecting with their friends without the hassle of maintaining a Facebook account.

The app was already a Whatsapp competitor, but now even more so.

Facebook says the update to Messenger for Android is available today, with frictionless signups becoming available over the next few weeks.

Messenger for Facebook

detail Facebook now allows you to sign up to Messenger for Android using just your name and phone number

Image Credit: Jewel Samad/Getty