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February 9, 2018

Google prepares to turn Android Messages into a true iMessage competitor

by John_A

A desktop client, texting over Wi-Fi, making payments to businesses, and more is in the works.

In the great debate of Android vs. iOS, one thing that iPhone users often tout is that they can’t imagine switching to a Galaxy Note 8 or Pixel 2 because Android doesn’t have iMessage. While Apple will likely never add an iMessage app to the Play Store, it looks like Google may be taking matters into its own hands.

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The folks at Android Police recently conducted a teardown of v2.9 for Android Messages, and while doing so, discovered a heap of new features that are in the pipeline for the app. Most notably, it would appear that Android Messages will soon get its own desktop client so you can send and receive messages from your computer.

According to strings of code referencing this feature, users will go to a specified address on their computer, scan a QR code with their phone’s camera from the Android Messages app, and automatically be logged into their account to handle any texts they get. This will all be done through a web-browser rather than a standalone desktop app, and you can be logged into multiple computers (such as a home desktop and laptop) at once.

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Android Message’s web client will look a lot like Allo’s.

This sounds awfully similar to what Google introduced last August with Allo’s web-based client, and while that may alienate dedicate Allo users, this is a huge upgrade for out-of-the-box texting on Android.

Google’s finally giving Android Messages the features it deserves.

In addition to this, other bits of code show that certain “chat features are powered by Google.” These features entail the ability to send texts over Wi-Fi, see when people are typing, send “high-quality” photos, and more.

A lot of these are things Google’s been pushing with RCS messaging, but seeing as how carriers are dragging their feet in its adoption process, Google might have found a way to take matters into its own hands. One line of code says that users can “Upgrade Now” to get access to these features, so Google may have found a way to provide RCS benefits without waiting for carriers to adopt the new standard.

Lastly, Android Messages might start allowing you to make payments for items from businesses. This is referred to with things like “Buy with Google”, “Payments Summary”, “Order summary”, and “CHECKOUT.” Unfortunately, there’s no mention as to what you’ll be able to buy, what merchants will be supported, etc.

There’s no ETA as to when these features will drop, but I’d imagine we see them rolled out by Google I/O this May at the latest. Of all the new goodies mentioned here, what are you most excited for?

Android Messages picks up Allo’s Smart Replies feature

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