Social media giant Facebook announced that it has launched biometric authentication for its popular Messenger platform on iPhones and iPads.
The new feature — called ‘App Lock’ — allows users to secure their conversations behind whatever from of biometric authentication exists on their device, whether it be facial recognition via Face ID or fingerprint recognition via Touch ID.
Users will also have the option to use the older PIN/Password approach to locking their chats, should they prefer it over the more secure biometric method.
Facebook also announced that App Lock will be coming to Android devices “in the coming months”, which won’t come as much of a surprise to many considering the number of apps that have added support for the Pixel’s Face Unlock feature since Google released a new API to help facilitate its integration late last year.
App Lock, which Facebook notes uses device-level biometric authentication so data doesn’t pass to the company’s servers, is reportedly the first part of a number of new upcoming privacy-focused Messenger features being worked on by Facebook.
These are reported to include greater controls over who can message you directly, and a photo blurring feature for unknown senders similar to what is currently used by Instagram (another Facebook property), though there is still no mention of end-to-end encryption.
The company also introduced biometric authentication to its other messaging app, WhatsApp, more than a year ago.
To activate App Lock, users will need to navigate to the app’s Privacy settings and toggle it on, then do the same for their phone’s biometric authentication setting to allow Messenger to access it. App Lock will activate after a user-defined period of inactivity which can be set to anywhere from one minute to an hour.