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Facebook launched an iPad version of its Messenger app today, which means that members of the company’s social network will now have a place to go just to chat with their friends, without having to look at their news feeds.

iPhone users have long had access to the messaging app, but Facebook didn’t choose to launch a tablet-native version until today. It comes as Facebook is making an increased push to break its messaging service out of its mobile apps in an attempt to hold onto users who might be attracted to Snapchat, Line, or WhatsApp.

As a long-time user of the iPhone app, this is welcome news. Messenger’s clean interface makes it easy to handle multiple conversations between friends without having to tap on tiny chat heads inside the main app and risk opening up a conversation with another person or clicking on an ad that pulls you out of Facebook entirely.

IMG_0186In addition to sending friends text-based messages, the app also allows people to make voice calls to other users of the Messenger app, which is a clear jab at Skype and other messaging apps. Like other messaging apps including Line and WhatsApp, users can also send digital “stickers” to one another that show small, emotive images.

In addition, the company recently added a feature to the app that makes it quick and easy for users to take a selfie and send it to their friends with limited button taps.

Today’s move is another in a long chain of moves by the company to break functions out of the main Facebook app and create individual, single-use applications. Facebook has been aggressive with its promotion of Messenger, going so far as to push users of its main app on mobile into the messaging app if they want to talk with their friends.

Facebook is clearly feeling the heat from the popularity of other messaging apps. The company agreed to pay $19 billion for WhatsApp earlier this year, and it recently released Slingshot, a Snapchat competitor.

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