Facebook is redesigning its Messenger Kids app

Messenger Kids Redesign
Messenger Kids Redesign (Image credit: Facebook)

What you need to know

  • Facebook is rolling out a new design for Messenger Kids in the U.S. and Canada.
  • This redesign will hit iPhones first, but Android phones will follow shortly.
  • Other new features being added include new custom chat colors and swipe gestures.

Facebook is rolling out a new design for Messenger Kids in the U.S. and Canada this week. It's rolling out first to iPhone users, and then the company will bring it to Android and other countries in the coming months

Here's what's new:

  • Dedicated "Chat" and "Explore" navigation tabs at the bottom of the inbox to help kids easily switch between their conversations and in-app activities.
  • A more intuitive Chat tab layout which brings the most recently active conversations to the top of the inbox.
  • Media and message previews so kids can quickly see updates to their conversations.
  • The ability to start a call with a "swipe" gesture straight from the inbox.
  • The option to choose a custom chat bubble color to personalize their 1:1 and group conversations.

The design of the app is a lot more similar to mainstream Facebook Messenger, differentiating itself from the more obviously "child-friendly" Messenger Kids. It's clear Facebook actually wants kids to want to use this product, as opposed to the previous design which was a little on the garish side.

While Facebook says it's rolling this out as a test, the drastic redesign and the similarity to Facebook's main product imply that this is more of a new path forward for the product.

As of today, Facebook Messenger Kids is available in over 70 countries. Despite the redesign, the core appeal of the product is in the amount of control it grants parents. They'll be able to see who their kids can message, what media is sent or recieved, and even remotely log them out of their accounts. Facebook says that aspect of the product isn't changing, but it's more likely to be effective if the children in question want to use the app in the first place.

Michael Allison