- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
- Google is rolling out a major update on Thursday for its Messages app in the Android operating system.
- The change brings modern text messaging features that Apple iPhone users have been used to for years, thanks to iMessage.
- The update brings text messaging over WiFi or mobile data instead of using traditional cellphone signal, as well as the ability to share high-quality photos and video, typing notifications, better group messaging, and delivery and read receipts.
- It’s unclear if the update will help bridge the gap between Android and iPhone users. Text messaging between Android phones and iPhones is, frankly, an awful mess for anything outside of standard text messaging with text only.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Google is rolling out one of the most significant updates to messaging on its Android smartphone operating system on Thursday, and it’s finally catching up to iMessage on iPhones.
The new Messages app in Android includes “RCS” technology (rich communication services), and it brings modern messaging features like text messaging over WiFi or mobile data instead of using traditional cellphone signal, as well as the ability to share high-quality photos and video, typing notifications, and delivery and read receipts.
Group messaging will also get better with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and to see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.
As for sending and receiving text messages on other devices like computers that iPhone users have become accustomed to, Google’s Messages for Web service on the Chrome browser is still the best and only option for Android users.
IPhone users have enjoyed these features for years with iMessages, and it’s crazy to think that Android users are only just getting this stuff now. Indeed, text messaging on Android has essentially been running on 35-year-old technology.
It’s great news for Android users text messaging other Android users, but it’s still unclear whether this will bridge the gap between iPhone and Android users.
Currently, text messaging between Android phones and iPhones is, frankly, an awful mess for anything outside of standard text messaging with text only. Sharing photos and videos between Android Messages and iMessage is a bad experience, as quality is incredibly poor.
iMessage runs on Apple’s own standard, not the universally adoptable RCS standard. Unfortunately, there’s no indication that Apple will adopt RCS for iMessage. Business Insider asked Apple if RCS would ever be supported on iMessage, but has yet to hear back.
For Android users, Google’s Messages update warrants extra clarification. The update is coming to Google’s own Messages app, not a phone maker’s app, or your carrier’s text messaging app that might be the default app on your specific smartphone. For those who don’t use Google’s own Messages app and who want to take advantage of the RCS update, they can set it as the default text messaging app by heading to Settings > Apps and notifications > Default apps > SMS app > and setting is to Google’s own Messages app, which has a blue icon.
If those users don’t have Google’s own Messages app installed on their phone, they can install it from the Google Play Store.
Google Pixels already have Google’s Messages app as the default text messaging app. Unless a Pixel user changed the default messaging app, Google’s own Messages app should update like a normal app.