Google is updating Android Messages to take on iMessage

Google’s rolling out Android Messages for the web, enabling Android users to send and receive messages from their computer through the web app, the company announced on Monday. The new Messages for web feature helps to expand the Android messaging experience by offering cross-platform access to messages. Messages for web is also one of the top requested features, according to Google. The full rollout of Messages for web will be completed in the week ahead.

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Web support for Android Messages is part of a wider feature update to the Messages app that aims to enhance the overall Android messaging experience. Google introduced four new features — smart replies, the ability to search and share GIFs, link previews within conversations, and copy of passwords with one tap — to Android Messages. Most notably, the addition of Smart Replies, which is an AI-powered feature that automatically creates suggestions for responses to messages, can help Android users save time when messaging on the go.

The addition of these new features to Android Messages is significant for two key reasons:

– It helps make Android Messages a stronger chat app competitor. Google in April began suspending work on its most recent chat app, Allo, to focus on building out Android Messages. The increased focus on Android Messages is notable because Google’s messaging strategy has been notoriously fragmented, and in turn, ineffective over the past several years. The lack of direction has allowed iOS to surge ahead with its iMessage platform — which is a key selling point for iPhones — and has enabled third-party players like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to become go-to messaging tools for Android users. By introducing features that are already available in other chat apps like iMessage, Google is positioning Android Messages to gain traction among Android users.

– It’s one of the first steps toward Chat. Google plans to evolve Android Messages with the new Chat feature, which is an over-the-top (OTT) messaging solution built on Rich Communications Services (RCS). RCS is a replacement for standard SMS and MMS messaging formats on compatible devices with participating carriers that enables users to send more content types in interactive formats. By adding new, useful features to Android Messages, Google is helping to lure Android smartphone owners to use the Chat app. And as Android Messages gains in popularity, it’s likely that mobile carriers, hardware makers, and brands and businesses will be more inclined to embrace the standard, which is crucial for RCS to take off.

Source: businessinsider.com; 21 June 2018

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