Google is giving its standard messaging app a major upgrade, the company announced today. The Messages app, which comes pre-installed on most Android phones, will receive a number of new features with the update. It will mainly address the long-standing problem where iMessage’s “Tapbacks” weren’t delivered as emoji responses, but rather were sent as a separate message. It’s an annoyance that has made chats between Android and iPhone users confusing, cluttered, and way too noisy.

Other upcoming updates include nudges to remind you to respond to messages you’ve missed, separate tabs for business and personal messages, reminders about birthdays you might want to celebrate, support for sharper videos via a Google Photos integration and a comprehensive set of emoji mashups, among others.

After the update, comments from iPhone users will be sent as emoji to text messages on Android. Like on iMessage, the emoji response — such as love, laughter, confusion, or excitement — appears on the right side of the message. (On Android, it’s at the bottom right.) This feature is rolling out first to Android devices set to English, but more languages ​​will follow.

Image Credits: Google

These enhanced responses were already available to beta users of the Messages app, but Google hasn’t said when they’ll be available to the public. Testers had noted that Android’s interpretation of which emoji to use is slightly different from the iPhone, however. For example, the “heart” response on Android becomes the “face with the heart eyes” emoji. And the exclamation point response of the iMessage becomes the “face with the open mouth” emoji.

Google also integrates Google Photos into the Messages app to improve video sharing. While the modern RCS standard allows people with Android devices to share high-quality videos with each other, those same videos appear blurry when shared with the one on iPhone because iMessage doesn’t support RCS. By sending the link to the video via Google Photos, iPhone users can watch the video in the same high resolution. This feature will also include support for photos later.

This addition is intended to prompt Apple to adopt the industry standard by putting the company to shame about video quality.

Google has so far been very vocal about Apple’s decision not to support RCS — largely because adopting RCS would allow Google to better compete with Apple’s iMessage. But Google isn’t wrong when it points out that Apple isn’t serving its own customers very well by reverting iMessage to the older standard of SMS, which is less secure. (An odd choice for a privacy-focused company like Apple claims to be.)

iMessage should not take advantage of bullying. Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let’s solve this as one industry. 💚💙

— Android (@Android) January 8, 2022

The lack of support also leads to all sorts of inconsistencies in messaging. For example, if they’re texting another iPhone user, iMessage users can see typing marks, use read receipts, and view high-resolution media. Those features would work when communicating with Android users if iMessage supported RCS, but Apple chose not to, leading to a bad experience for its own customers.

Apple is benefiting to some extent by making texting the “worse” experience as it can help lock down ecosystems. But critics argue that decisions like this have caused iMessage to fail as a global messaging champion; users around the world have instead turned to third-party messaging apps like WeChat, Messenger, Telegram, and WhatsApp, in part because Apple chose not to compete on Android, or even keep up with basic modern messaging features.

Meanwhile, the Google Messages upgrade raises the bar when it comes to how a basic messaging app could work, at least in terms of consumer convenience — though in Google’s case, more efforts need to be made to protect user privacy. to protect. Still, it’s good to see steady improvements to just one app, rather than the rollout of yet another — as has been the case with the company’s scattered messaging strategy in previous years.

Image Credits: Google

In addition to the solutions above, which are aimed at solving issues related to Apple’s continued use of SMS, Messages will now also automatically sort messages into the Personal and Business tabs in the app, making it easier for you to get the messages you need. can find. And to cut down on the clutter, you can set it to automatically disappear messages with one-time password after 24 hours. This feature was already available in India and is now coming to the US

The app also helps you better nurture your relationships, giving you a nudge when you forgot to respond to a text or reminding you that it’s your friend’s birthday. (It will only know this if you have their birthday details saved to your contacts app.) The nudges will be rolled out first to English users around the world.

YouTube links sent through Messages now include a preview of the video in the conversation.

Finally, Google has updated its Emoji Kitchen feature in its Gboard keyboard, which allows you to combine two different emoji to create your own. Now this selection is bigger with over 2,000 new mashups available as stickers. Gboard’s Grammar Correction feature on the device is also coming to all of Android, after it first launched on Pixel devices.

Image Credits: Google

The new Messages app features are one of the highlights of a number of other Google product updates rolling out today, including improvements to Android widgets, Google TV, Google Photos, Close Sharing, Android Auto, Accessibility features, and more.

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