Google has decided to match Apple’s energy with its Messages app. The app is getting a series of updates that will bring the texting feature more in line with Apple’s iMessage and Meta’s WhatsApp. But one feature, designed to make emoji message responses more consistent, might be annoying at first for anyone using a non-Android phone or a third-party texting app on Android.
According to a Thursday blog post, the Messages app now lets you respond to any text with an emoji. But when a call isn’t made through RCS — the SMS standard Google uses to provide enhanced features in its Messaging app — it will do so by sending an SMS text indicating the emoji used while citing the message for which it is. the response is intended. This is similar to how the iPhone handles emoji responses to text messages between iPhone and Android users.
Earlier this year, Google added a feature that translates those texts from an iPhone into the correct emoji response for Android devices.
Google’s Jan Jedrzejowicz, who serves as the product lead on Messages, said during a roundtable discussion with reporters that the feature is intended to add consistency to the Messages app rather than completely blocking the response feature from non-RCS conversations. Regarding how the texts might initially appear in Apple’s iMessage, Jedrzejowicz said it’s up to Apple to decide whether or not these texts are parsed into the appropriate emoji response.
Upcoming Messages updates also bring inline replies to the app, the ability to watch YouTube videos in conversation, and proactive suggestions based on texts in conversation. These suggestions could include setting a reminder if a birthday is mentioned, a suggestion to star a message if it contains an important detail (such as a door unlock code), or setting up a Google Meet call as in the conversation it is mentioned that it is necessary to set a message. up a meeting. These suggestions can be turned off if they feel too intrusive.
Google is also expanding the availability for the voice message transcription feature introduced on the Pixel 7. That feature is coming to the Pixel 6 line, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S22, Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4.
The Google Messages app gets a new set of icons with overlapping blue shapes for Messages, Phone, and Contacts.
Google partners with United Airlines to bring free RCS texts to flights over in-flight Wi-Fi. This is similar to what other airlines offer, including free texting via services such as iMessage and WhatsApp.
While several of these features are already common in competing texting apps, they’re especially relevant as Google continues to push Apple to consider adopting the RCS texting standard. RCS is promoted as a replacement for SMS and MMS, as it supports features that the older standards cannot, including type designations, higher quality photos, and message encryption. However, RCS is largely run by Google, and the standard is generally not available outside of the company’s Messages app on Android.