Google is preparing a revolution for Messages. Lots of new features are coming, mostly thanks to RCS.
Instant messaging is a pretty mess these days. On iPhone, there is iMessage. On Android, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, etc. The default option of Google, Messages, has always been the standard texting app, lacking the functionality of other apps. But that should change very soon.
Google is preparing a revolution for Messages
Most of the major changes rely on RCS, the successor to SMS. Thanks to the latter, Google can add features incompatible with SMS and upgrade text messaging to third-party options. The transition is not perfect, mainly because Apple does not want to get started, but even without the Cupertino company, Google has managed to make its Messages app a strong competitor.
Google announced these new features in a blog post a few days ago, “10 New Reasons to Love Messages by Google”. With this article, it is clear that the company wants to push its messaging solution to the Android community. And there is something to get excited about.
First, the new app icon. Two chat bubbles, one more prominent than the other, designed for Material You. The same goes for the Contacts and Phone apps. These icons will therefore use the main color of your screen background. By default, they are blue, but they adapt to the dominant color of your device.
Many new features are coming
One of my favorite new features is the ability to watch YouTube videos directly in Messages. It’s a feature other apps already have, but better late than never. You will no longer need to switch to the YouTube app to watch the video that was just sent to you.
A while ago, Google bridged an important gap between iOS and Android by turning iPhone reactions into emoji in Google Messages. Today it’s a two-way street, you can react to text messages from an iPhone with emoji. Unfortunately, these reactions appear as text reactions on the recipient’s iPhone or any RCS user who is present in the conversation. If all are using RCS, however, emoji reactions will appear as normal. Hopefully Apple will do its part. Nobody wants to have to carry around their pieces of text.
You can also reply to specific messages, like replies in iMessage or Messenger. Your reply will be linked to a preview of the original message, making it easier to keep track of the text you’re replying to.
Mainly thanks to RCS
For frequent flyers, RCS now works with Wi-Fi onboard United Airlines planes, meaning you won’t have to wait until you land to continue your conversations in Google Messages. Hopefully there will be more compatible airlines in the future. Until then, if you are a heavy user of RCS, you might decide to prefer United Airlines for this reason.
With Voicemail Transcription, you can have the text of any voicemail you receive. As long as your smartphone is compatible, of course. This feature is currently only available for Pixel 7, 7 Pro, 6, 6A, 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and Fold 4.
Google Messages also integrates your reminders. If you create a reminder for a birthday, for example, you will see this reminder when opening the contact when you want to chat with him. Messages will also automatically remind you of important events when these are linked to contacts.
Another important feature is the ability to bookmark important messages. Perfect for those messages that contain an address, phone number, date, etc. Google Messages will also suggest to bookmark certain messages. Just as it will offer you to start a Meet call if the message contains an invitation to do so, or to create an entry in your calendar if a message contains a date and/or time.
Depending on your country of residence, you might also see a new feature to chat with companies in Google Messages. The feature is similar to Business Chat on iOS, but it lets you ask questions of businesses you find in Search or Maps.
Finally, Google reminds you that the Pixel Watch exists, although the reviews are quite mixed. If you have a Pixel Watch, you can start writing messages from the watch, or a Chromebook.