(Credit: Grinvalds/iStockphoto)

A big update to Facebook Messenger (Android, iOS), teased earlier in the year, promised a simpler UI. Facebook planned to remove some unnecessary elements and emphasize the features users interact with the most.

Android Police reported that the new design is showing up without an update, meaning its a server side change.

The bottom bar in particular has been minimalized. Before, users had access to five icons: Messenger Home, Connect, Camera, Games, and Suggestions. Now there's only the Messenger Home, a new chat button, and an Explore tab, which looks like a catch-all for the icons that were removed.

The chat screen display is less cluttered, with the top bar that said who was online, listed groups, and calls, is gone.

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While the new interface might be cleaner, it's debatable whether it's better. There doesn't seem to be distinguishable borders with all of the white. The new Messenger does include a dark mode, though.

Facebook promised the Messenger overhaul back in January and previewed the design at its F8 conference in May. In January, David Marcus, head of Messenger admitted that the app was too bloated.

Marcus said he expected more businesses to use Messenger this year and the app would make a leap to more visual messaging. Those features haven't launched yet.

At F8, Facebook talked about providing companies with access to its Camera Effects Platform so they can integrate new AR features into Messenger. The feature would potentially allow businesses to bring products to life. Customers would also have access to the business' filters and effects.

"This feature -- launching in closed beta -- leverages the nature of messaging to help people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, customizations, and more, without ever needing to set foot in a store," Facebook said at the conference.

The new camera effects and AR are in closed beta testing and will launch to select companies first.

Facebook is also adding language translation to Marketplace to bridge the gap between international transactions among users who speak different languages. The company plans to have English to Spanish and Spanish to English translations with more language support later.

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  1. Facebook has started rolling out its redesigned and streamlined Messenger app with a cleaner user interface.
  2. The Messenger overhaul was promised back in January and detailed at F8 in May. Users are still waiting for the new AR features and the Marketplace language translator.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.