Google has detailed the new, recent and upcoming changes to its Messages app in an effort to advocate for the more widespread adoption of the RCS messaging protocol. Apple chief Tim Cook recently made clear that the company has no plans to fix the 'green bubbles' texting experience anytime soon, but Google's feature additions improve messaging interoperability between iOS and Android. Earlier this year, it rolled out an update for the Messages app that allowed it to display iMessage reactions as emoji. More recently, it launched the ability to react to SMS texts from iPhone users with emoji reactions, as well.
To make navigating busy group chats easier, the app will soon let users respond to individual messages when RCS is enabled — they simply have to swipe on a particular message to reply. This will begin rolling out in the coming weeks. Google has expanded access to the Voice Message Transcription feature, as well, giving people who own a Pixel 6, Pixel 6A, Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy Fold 4 the option to read the contents of a voice message instead. The feature auto-transcribes voice messages using machine learning and was only previously available for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Another new feature is the ability to add reminders from right within the Messages app. Users who set reminders for birthdays and anniversaries will even get a notification when they open the application. In addition, the app will now suggest "starring" a message to keep track of important information or scheduling Meet calls and creating Calendar events when appropriate.
Google has also given Messages an in-app YouTube player, so that users won't have to leave the application when someone sends them a link to a video on the platform. It's testing the capability that would allow users to chat with businesses on Search and Maps from within the application in some countries, as well. And for those flying United, take note that the tech giant has struck a deal with the airline to offer free messaging for passengers using United WiFi starting this fall.
Finally, Google is updating its Messages, Phone and Contacts icons to "to better reflect today's modern messaging experience" and to better blend in with Google's other apps.