Facebook’s mobile app strategy comes amid a global shift in Internet use to mobile phones. With faster and cheaper data connections, people in the U.S. and Europe are spending an increasing amount of their connected time on smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop and laptop computers.

By Reed Albergotti

Users of Facebook’s mobile app users will soon need a separate app to message friends, a Facebook spokesman said Wednesday.

Now, Facebook users can send messages from within its main app, but the spokesman said that feature will soon be discontinued.

The move, which Facebook hopes will increase use of its separate mobile-messaging app, is part of Facebook’s strategy of rolling out multiple apps offering different features of its core product.

Facebook now has seven mobile apps, including photo-sharing app Instagram. In January, it launched Paper, an app that aggregates and curates news stories. Facebook also acquired mobile messaging service WhatsApp in February, for $19 billion in cash and stock.

Wednesday, Facebook notified users in a half-dozen European countries, including the U.K. and France, that the messaging feature in their mobile app would cease to operate in the coming weeks. Eventually, it will stop working for all users.

Once the messaging feature stops working, users who attempt to send a message will be redirected to the separate messenger app. If they don’t have the app installed, they’ll be prompted to download it.

Messenger was launched in 2011, using technology the company obtained through its acquisition of Beluga.

In November, Facebook added cosmetic upgrades and improved the interface. A Facebook spokesman said the feature in the main mobile app is being discontinued so the engineering team can focus on the stand-alone app.