Facebook Home may not be coming to iOS, but one of its most illustrious new features is. Chat Heads, the versatile messaging system that combines SMS texts and Facebook Messages into one pretty package, will reportedly makes its iPhone, iPad, and Windows Phone debut later today via a Facebook app update, All Things D reports.
What's the advantage of Chat Heads over, say, iMessage? For starters, it allows you to communicate without ever leaving the Facebook app. If you're scrolling through your news feed and you receive a text from your friend Mark, for example, a Chat Head will magically appear onscreen. Instead of closing the app to communicate from iMessage, you can simply tap Mark's Chat Head and text back from there.
All Things D laments that unlike the full version of Chat Heads exclusive to Facebook Home on Android, the messaging feature won't appear in other apps. So if you have Twitter or Instagram open, the Chat Head icon won't pop up; that's a bummer. (Apple's closed ecosystem means a Facebook-style takeover for iOS tips decidedly toward the never unlikely column.)
And once again, porting Chat Heads over to iOS and Windows serves as a friendly reminder of Facebook's master plan, which is to commandeer as many native features on as many mobile platforms as possible in hopes of achieving true smartphone indispensability. (Remember, it already has a dedicated Message app you can place phone calls from.) Put another way: Facebook wants you to use Facebook-branded stuff all the time so it can stick ads everywhere, which is natural for a business trying to make money.
The problem for Facebook, of course, is the same one it has always had: Convincing users that its social-flavored suite of apps are useful (and fun?) enough that they'll turn a blind eye to Zuck and Co.'s data-gathering ways. Trusting Facebook to take care of your data on a desktop browser already requires a small leap of faith. On an intimate object like a phone that houses everything from location data to phone numbers? Well... you can understand why some users are hesitant to jump.