Google has left no stones unturned in pushing Apple to adopt the Rich Communication Services (RCS) that the search giant argues will improve cross-platform communication. With little to no luck so far, Google is marching ahead with things that are within its power: supercharging its RCS client Messages on Android with new features to make lives a little easier for those on the other side of the green bubbles.
Google’s Messages is adding a slew of new features such as the ability to react to texts sent from an iPhone, set reminders and also have an in-app YouTube video player to watch videos without leaving the texting app.
Rich Communication Services, or RCS, is the collective effort of a number of industry players to supercharge the traditional SMS with modern features such as richer texts with read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality video sharing, stickers and end-to-end encryption. Google, Samsung and a number of other firms, including telecom operators, have rolled out support for RCS to over 500 million users worldwide in recent years — but the Apple sphere remains immune to it. In recent quarters, Google has aggressively worked to beam new features to RCS and its messaging app.
Google originally rolled out an update to the Messages app in March that enabled users to see reactions from iPhone users on text. Now it is adding the capability to send reactions to iPhone users as well.
There’s been a raging debate about the whole green bubble and blue bubble. When iPhone users chat with other iPhone users their text is shown in a blue bubble, indicating that they are using iMessage, which offers features like reactions and animated memojis. When an Android user sends an iPhone user a text, it shows up in a green bubble, which is just like plain old SMS without any rich media features.
Google has been pushing Apple to adopt RCS so that users on either of the mobile operating systems can experience features like high-quality video sharing, read receipts, typing indicators, stickers, and more — but Tim Cook & Co. hasn’t budged. The new Messages update at least brings some cross-platform reactions to the mix.
Google is also launching some features that are widely popular in other chat apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. First of the lot is a feature to “star” messages to save important details such as addresses, codes, phone numbers or a favorite meme. You can access these messages by tapping on the three-dot menu and going to the starred section.
With the new update, users can also reply to individual messages in a group chat. Plus, they can also watch YouTube videos through an in-app player.
What’s more, the Messages app will now allow you to set in-app reminders that can be handy for events, birthdays and anniversaries. After you set these reminders, they will show up when you open the app. Unless of course, if you want to use Google’s existing to-do and reminder solutions.
Google mentioned bringing voice transcription to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro at its event earlier this month. Now, the company is enabling this feature for the Messages app on the Pixel 6, the Pixel 6 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy Fold 4.
Google is testing some location-specific features as well. In some regions — Google didn’t specify which ones — the company is allowing users to chat with businesses they find through Search or Maps on the Messages app. The company is also partnering with United to let flight passengers text through RCS using in-flight Wi-Fi starting this fall with support for most carriers.