Google announces new features and new icon for its Messages app

Google announces new features and new icon for its Messages app
Google announced this morning some changes it is making to the Google Messages app for Android. The app is powered by Rich Communication Service (RCS) which allows users to send longer messages, send and receive higher-quality video, receive read receipts, and feel secure with end-to-end encryption. Similar to Apple's iMessage, these features are available only if the other parties involved in a chat are also using RCS.

New features are coming to the Google Messages app

Among the new features, users will soon be able to respond to an individual message in a conversation when RCS is enabled. This will allow a user to respond to a specific message without "breaking the flow." Earlier this year, Google started showing iPhone users' emoji reactions on Android phones. Now, the Google Messages app will allow users to respond to SMS Texts from iPhone users with an emoji reaction.

Voice Message Transcription will auto-transcribe voice messages that you receive. Google explains it this way, "Say you’re in a crowded space and get an audio message from a loved one: transcripts will let you "view" the audio like you would a traditional text message." This way you can view it without everyone around listening in. This feature is not only available on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, it is also offered on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 6A, the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4, and the Galaxy S22 line.

The Messages app will now show reminders allowing you to remember important moments and appointments without having to go through different apps. You can be reminded of your anniversary, your wife's birthday, or that important doctor's appointment. And if you type birthday and anniversary dates for your contacts, these will pop up with a reminder in the Google Messages app.

This next new feature is exciting. You can watch YouTube videos inside the Messages app so that when someone sends you a link for a YouTube video, you can watch it and respond to the text without having to leave the Google Messages app for the YouTube app and then return to the Google Messages app to reply.

Google Messages will now suggest that you "star" a message that contains information that you might want to access again such as addresses, door codes, and phone numbers. This will let you quickly find those messages that contain the information you are looking for. The Google Messages app will now recognize texts saying things like "Can you talk now?" and suggest a Meet video call by showing an icon right next to the message.

A message that says something like "Let’s meet at 6 pm on Tuesday" will result in a suggestion that the event be added to Google Calendar. Following the recommendation may help you remember an important appointment or event. And those with the Google Pixel Watch can send a message by asking Google Assistant to do so.

Google tests a feature that will allow consumers to chat with businesses using the Messages app

Google reveals that in some countries, it is testing a feature that will allow Google Messages users to engage in a chat with businesses that you found on Search and Maps. Google writes that with this feature, "You can plan your next trip, score tickets to the big game, and find deals from your favorite retailers — all without leaving the Messages app." What makes this interesting is that at one time the major U.S. carriers planned on using RCS to help connect consumers with businesses.

Like to stay connected while flying? Google has also worked out a deal with United Airlines to offer messaging on United Airlines flights as long as RCS is enabled. This feature will be available on United WiFi for most carriers starting this fall.

Also being updated is the Google Messages icon. The Phone and Contacts apps will also be updated with one thought in mind: helping you communicate. Google states, "And of course, we obsessed over every pixel to ensure these new icons are instantly recognizable as communication tools and accessible to everyone."

The updated Google Messages app is now available from the Google Play Store.
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