The best new features coming to Google Messages

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Messaging in the United States is a complicated conversation. For iPhone users, it’s mostly iMessage. For Android users, it’s child’s play. WhatsApp is the king of third-party options, followed by others like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and Signal. Google’s default option, Messages, has always been a standard SMS messaging app lacking the functionality of other apps. Lately, Google wants to change that.

Many of these changes hinge on RCS, successor to SMS. With it, Google is able to add features incompatible with SMS and bring the default messaging option in line with one of the third-party options that people gravitate toward. The transition is not perfect, especially since Apple will not move. But even without Apple, Google has managed to make its Messages app a contender, thanks in large part to a recent suite of new features.

Google announced these changes in a Thursday blog post, presenting them as “10 new reasons to love Messages from Google”. With this bulletin, it’s clear that the company is aggressively selling its messaging solution to the Android community. The good news is that there is plenty to be excited about.

The first is the new Messages app icon. Now the icon sports two chat bubbles, one significantly more prominent than the other, and is designed for Material You. The same goes for the Contacts and Phone app icons. These icons will join other app icons from Google and match your phone’s wallpaper theme. By default, they have a blue theme, but, as you can see below, they will adapt to whatever color palette you have.

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Image: Google

One of my favorite new features is the ability to watch YouTube videos directly in Messages. Sure, it’s a feature other chat apps have had, but better late than never. You won’t need to switch to the YouTube app just to watch a video your friend sent you.

Earlier this year, Google closed a major gap between iOS and Android by turn iPhone reactions into emojis in Google posts. Now it goes both ways, as you can react to text messages from iPhones with emojis as well. Unfortunately, they will always appear as a full-text reaction from the iPhone user side (i.e. “Jake liked ‘Do you want to see a movie tonight?'”), as well as for any other RCS user who happens to be in the chat. If the cat is everything RCS users, however, emoji reactions will appear as normal. Hopefully Apple can at least meet Google halfway here, if not embrace RCS altogether. nobody wants thatself pedantic texts cluttering group discussions.

You will also have to be able to respond to specific messages, similar to how replies work with iMessage and Messenger. Your reply will be linked to a preview of the original post, making it easy to track what you’re replying to.

Good news for frequent travelers, RCS now works on United Airlines in-flight wifiwhich means you won’t have to wait for landing to track conversations in Google Posts. Hopefully more airlines will be added in the future. Until then, if you’re a hardcore RCS user, you might make every effort to book through United rather than another company.

With Transcription of voice messages, we have come full circle. Voicemails are a convenient halfway point between text and phone call. You want to send a quick message to someone, but you don’t have the patience to type everything by hand. Again, if the recipient isn’t somewhere they can listen to the message, they won’t know what you said. If you have the right phone, however, Android will transcribe audio messages for you, turning them into “text” messages. This feature is available on Pixel 7, 7 Pro, 6, 6A, 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 or Fold 4.

Google Messages also now integrates with your reminders. If you set a reminder to call someone on their birthday, for example, you’ll see the reminder when you open their contact to chat with them. It can also happen passively: Messages will automatically remind you of important events, such as birthdays and anniversaries, when those events are linked to contacts. If your birthday is saved, you’ll see a reminder when you open a thread with your partner.

A key feature that will surely save many of us is the ability to stars important messages. This option should be perfect for times when contacts send us information that we will need later, such as addresses, phone numbers, dates. While it’s unclear if you can star the posts you want, Google Posts will suggest posts to feature on their own. Speaking of suggestions, Google Messages will also suggest starting a Meet call on texts such as “Do you have time to talk now?” and will suggest adding calendar entries for messages with times and/or dates.

According to your country of residenceyou may also see a new feature that allows you to chat with businesses in Google Posts. The feature is similar to Business Chat on iOS, but it lets you ask questions of businesses you discover in search or on Maps.

Finally, Google would like to remind you the Pixel Watch existsalthough criticism has been less than stellar. If you have a Pixel watch, you can send text messages from the watch, as well as other devices like Chromebooks.

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