Facebook is removing the messaging feature from its mobile app, forcing users to download its standalone Messenger app if they want to chat with their Facebook friends, as first reported by TechCrunch.

Starting today, people in certain European countries are seeing notifications that, over the next few weeks, they will need to install Messenger to continue sending and receiving Facebook messages on their smartphones.

A Facebook spokesperson tells TNW the company has found that people get replies 20 percent faster on Messenger than on Facebook, and that new features are being continuously added to the Messenger app. For example, just last month, Facebook Messenger for iOS received an update that let users create group chats and “pin” groups to get easier access to them. The Facebook spokesperson says:

We have built a fast and reliable messaging experience through Messenger and now it makes sense for us to focus all our energy and resources on that experience.

From this week onwards, more people will be notified of the change. Facebook will be removing the messaging feature from its Android and iOS apps in “a handful of countries” over the next couple of weeks. “People will have several notices before this change takes place and will have opportunities to learn more about Messenger and its features,” the Facebook spokesperson tells us.

However, this change won’t affect lower-end Android devices with memory constraints, which means you can chat in-app without having to download Messenger. You will still be able to message from Facebook’s iPad app as well.

Despite Facebook buying WhatsApp in a $19 billion deal, it seems like the company is still keen on pushing its own Messenger app, probably to make sure both chat apps cover as much ground as they possibly can all over the world. However, the fact that users have to download two apps now may not sit well with them.

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