Google Messages has been in the spotlight a lot lately – the default messaging app for countless Android phones as well as Google’s own Pixel smartphones recently celebrated 1 billion users worldwide, following news of Apple’s recent announcement to begin adopting RCS support next year, a move that Google has long campaigned for. Speaking on these new developments, Sanaz Ahari, VP and GM for Android and Business Communications writes:
“Today marks a new milestone that we are incredibly proud of: There are now more than one billion monthly active users with RCS enabled in Google Messages. We are grateful to our partners and our users that have advocated for RCS over the years — it’s been a lot of work to get here, and we want to thank you. Beyond Google Messages, there are other messaging clients that use RCS and we are pleased that Apple also took their first step two weeks ago in announcing that they’re embracing RCS.”
RCS and New Features
For those unfamiliar with the term, “RCS” stands for “rich communication services,” a more modern approach to mobile chats and messaging. It’s meant to take over for SMS and MMS, and features a more secure system overall. Google has had the feature for some years now, although it’s yet to take off in certain regions like North America due to the dominance of iMessage.
With that being said, Google finally announced some new RCS chat features for the Messages app, which add some much-welcome functionality and flair for users. One thing to consider is that the features are currently only available for beta users, so it might be some time before we see them roll out to more users.
Photomoji, Voice Moods, and Screen Effects
Up first are a handful of features designed to add more liveliness to user chats. This includes the “Photomoji” feature, which allows users to select photos and convert them into emoji-like reactions for messages. Google has also included “Voice Moods,” which essentially adds visual effects to a voice text depending on how a sender is feeling, in addition to an increased bitrate and sampling rate for better quality. Screen Effects add more emotion to messages by initiating an animation sequence based on specific messages typed out, such as “i love you,” or “it’s snowing.”
Custom Bubbles, New Animations and Profiles
Users will soon be able to use Custom Bubbles, which allows users to select personalised colours for message bubbles and backgrounds, so they’re not stuck with a basic green or blue bubble. Google has also added enhanced reaction effects, so conversations are a lot more lively when users react to message bubbles. Emojis also get an upgrade with the new update, and now feature improved animations for better visuals. Finally, Google has added an improved “Profiles” feature, which allows users to customise how they’ll appear across different Google services, creating for a more uniform experience.
As mentioned earlier, the new Google Messages and RCS features are currently in beta mode, so users will have to wait a bit for them to officially arrive for the stable version, or enrol in the beta themselves for an early preview of what’s to come.