Apple Messages just got a bunch of new features with the arrival of iOS 16, and it looks like Google won’t be far behind when it comes to adding several significant upgrades to its own Messages app for Android devices.
Some dig by 9to5Google (opens in new tab) has revealed code that resides in the Messages app but hasn’t been activated yet – suggesting these features are still being worked on and could be turned on in the not-too-distant future.
One of the upgrades apparently in the works is the ability to reply to specific messages in a conversation, something you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used WhatsApp or iMessage. Users should also soon be able to reply to a message with any emoji.
audio and images
As if that weren’t enough, it looks like Messages will soon offer the ability to convert voice memos to text. In other words, you can have voice memos written for you if you can’t listen to the actual audio clip – something not seen on many messaging competitors and quite a hit for Google’s messaging app, which continues to be developed would be Attractive messaging app to attract new users.
Finally, there’s also evidence of a new gallery view appearing in the Messages app, which switches to a vertical layout, making it easier to get to the images you want to attach to your outgoing messages.
When all of this will appear to users is no set date, but it shouldn’t be too long. It’s possible that Google will capitalize on the Pixel 7’s October 6 launch for some software announcements as well.
Analysis: Google is not giving up on Messages
You’re forgiven if you’ve been a bit confused by Google’s messaging app strategy over the past year or two. Messages is the default app that ships with Pixels and many other Android phones and handles SMS and MMS duties. It also supports RCS or Rich Communications Services, an upgrade to SMS.
RCS is not a Google product, although Google invests heavily in its development and deployment. It turns SMS into something more modern, with support for features like read receipts and media file formats (including the all-important GIF). Google is pushing Apple to support RCS, but we might wait a while for that to happen.
Then there’s Google Chat, which has replaced Google Hangouts. This is more akin to something like WhatsApp or Telegram and includes most of the features you would expect from a messaging app. However, it doesn’t support SMS or RCS, so Google Messages is still available.
These incoming features show that Google Messages and Google Chat will remain separate for the foreseeable future – it’s a little confusing for users, but we’ve come to expect that for the past few years. Also see Google Duo, the video calling app now integrating with Google Meet.
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