Google upgrades Messages and RCS

Published by at

Google is gradually taking control of messaging in Android with a double whammy of a constantly upgraded Messages app (as seen in many phones now, not just Pixels, e.g. in Sonys, in the Surface Duos, and even now in Samsungs) and upgrades to the underlying Play Services, both through the Google Play Store. Highlights for me are consistent emoji support across ecosystems (e.g. to iPhones) and proper video and image support (i.e. no MMS), but see the Google blog post below for more, including a cartoon sizzle video.

From Google:

...When people with Android phones and iPhones message each other, not everything works the way it should. That’s because these conversations rely on SMS, an outdated messaging standard, instead of RCS, a modern, more secure industry standard Android uses that enables high-quality videos, emoji reactions, end-to-end encryption and more.

While our latest updates can’t fix everything about Android and iPhone conversations, here are a few ways we're addressing some of the biggest issues we've heard from you.

Feel the love (and laughter, confusion or excitement) from your iPhone friends, too. Reactions from iPhone users are now displayed on your Android phone as emojis, just like when you’re messaging with someone who’s using an Android device. Starting on devices set to English, with additional languages to follow.

Today, the RCS standard lets people with Android devices share beautiful, high-quality photos and videos with one another. But unfortunately, without RCS, they look blurry when you share them with your iPhone friends. Now everyone can watch your videos in the same resolution that you do since we’re bringing Google Photos into Messages. You can send your videos as Google Photos links right inside the conversation, preserving their clarity. Coming soon, you’ll be able to send your photos this way, too.

But these new updates can only do so much. We encourage Apple to join the rest of the mobile industry and adopt RCS so that we can make messaging better and more secure, no matter what device you choose.

We receive so many messages each day, it can be difficult to separate the important ones from everything else, and easy to miss some altogether. These new tools help you break through the clutter and stay on top of the conversations that matter the most.

Organized inbox automatically sorts your messages into Personal and Business tabs so you can easily find what you need at any given moment — similarly to how most of our email inboxes work. Plus, you can set one-time password messages to be automatically deleted after 24 hours to help reduce the clutter even more. Originally launched in India, this is now expanding to the U.S.

Did you leave someone hanging recently? Now gentle nudges can remind you to reply to messages you may have missed or need to follow-up on so that nothing important slips through the cracks. This will roll out first to English users around the globe.

It’s way too easy to forget important dates. Here are a few new ways Messages can help you send the right thing at the right moment to your favorite people.

It’s now easier than ever to remember to wish your friends a happy birthday. If you save someone’s birthday in your device’s contacts app, you’ll get a gentle reminder about your friend’s special day when you open Messages or jump into a conversation with them. (Candles not included.)

If you have Gboard set as your keyboard in Messages, you don’t need to settle for one emoji to tell your story. Emoji Kitchen is bigger than ever with over 2,000 new emoji mashups available as stickers. Replace heart eyes with pretzels, make it rain disco balls or add some love to your favorite foods in an endless array of emoji possibilities.

Hopefully these updates, which roll out over the coming weeks, make it easier to connect to everyone and everything you care about. Open or download Messages by Google to try them.

There's lots to like here and the good news is that a huge number of recent Android smartphones will get all this as part of the rollout. Note that RCS (and thus some of these features) does also depend on cooperation with the networks/carriers, but even this side of things is coming together nicely in most countries now.

You can read more here about 'other great features coming to Android'.

Here's the short sizzle video:

Source / Credit: Google