Millions of Apple users warned of a major messaging downgrade

Bad news for Facebook Messenger users: Meta's killing it off in a matter of weeks

Facebook Messenger on Apple Watch
(Image credit: Future)

Meta has some bad news for Apple Watch users: it's killing the Messenger app at the end of May. After that you'll still be able to receive notifications of new messages on your wrist, but you won't be able to respond to them. 

I think this is a real shame, because since 2015 I've been using the app multiple times a day; messaging is one of the core strengths of the best smartwatches and cutting off access to Messenger is going to make me use the service a lot less. 

Why is Meta killing off Facebook Messenger on Apple Watch?

Meta hasn't given an explanation; it simply said to Reviewgeek in a statement that "People can still receive Messenger notifications on their Apple Watch when paired, but starting at the end of May they will no longer be able to respond from their watch. But they can continue using Messenger on their iPhone, desktop and the web.”

I think the reason is pretty obvious, though: Meta hasn't found a way to monetise that small screen because Apple doesn't allow it. 

It's interesting timing when Meta is simultaneously bringing WhatsApp to wearOS: it seems that the problem isn't the size of the device but the operating system and App Store it runs. And Apple's rules are at odds with Meta's business model: Apple prohibits trackers and has very strict policies on advertising. The rules are detailed in the App Store guidelines: ads "should not be included in extensions, App Clips, widgets, notifications, keyboards, watchOS apps, etc." 

That means any Meta app for the Apple Watch has to deliver what I want and Meta doesn't: an ad-free, tracker-free experience. 

It's interesting to compare Messenger on my Apple Watch to Meta's big apps, Instagram and Facebook, on my iPhone: both are increasingly stuffed with irrelevant content that gets in the way of the content I actually want to see, something I fear is only going to get worse after Meta's incredibly expensive metaverse bungling. 

To some extent, then, we've actually dodged a bullet here: it looks like Meta wanted to make Messenger worse, and when Apple said no Meta decided to throw this particular toy out of the pram. And while I understand Meta's thinking, I do think it's counterproductive: with Apple shifting an estimated 40 million Apple Watches, the move means Meta isn't offering any messaging option to many millions of users.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (