Google is rolling out a new version of its native Messages app for Android that brings “Messages for Web”. This new feature allows users to send SMS directly from their browser window without the need to pick up their smartphones. This marks a huge step up for Android Messages app in terms of features after years of scattered efforts from Google. As reported previously, the company introduced a number of new features to the app in addition to the “Messages for Web” to push the app towards one of the top SMS apps both in terms of UI as well as functionality.
These new features include “GIF Search” inside the app, “Smart Reply” for messages in English language so that users can respond to messages with a single tap, link previews to messages so that you have a brief snippet of the website, and the ability to easily copy OTP (One-time-passwords) directly from the notification without any need to exit the current app that you are working on. Talking about the smaller features such as “Smart Reply”, and “link previews”, you need to enable both these features in the settings of the Messages app and they are as easy as toggling the feature on. Ability to copy OTP directly from the notifications, and GIF Search are already enabled.
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However, the primary feature that we are here to talk about is “Messages for Web” because this brings Android “Messages” close to what Apple iMessage is. It obviously has a long way to go before it can provide us with a proper iMessages alternative. To further clarify, “Messages” app by Google handles the duty to store, show, manage everything related to SMS in its Pixel and Nexus lineup. More and more Android device makers are bundling the Messages app with their devices instead of their own apps to manage SMS duties.
On the surface, as mentioned previously, it works a lot like how WhatsApp for Web works. This means that users need to ensure that their smartphone has continued Internet access if they want to check new SMS messages that the user has received or if they want to send new SMS messages.
Connecting Android app to “Messages for Web”
To start off the setup, you need to navigate to the Messages for Web website to get a QR code. Open your “Messages” app on your Android smartphone, tap on the three-dot menu on the top right corner and then select “Messages for web”.
This will bring you to a new screen with a button in the middle with the label “Scan QR Code” to scan the code that is on the website. You can select to “Remember” the computer that you are using for “Messages for Web” so that you don’t have to scan the QR code every time when you need to access SMS messages. It is better to keep the option unchecked if it is not your personal machine.
Once you have scanned the QR code, the app will take a few seconds to encrypt and send some of them to your browser for storage so that you can navigate between recent SMS messages that you received.
User Interface of “Messages for Web”
“Messages for Web“allows you to change its settings, check for “Archived” messages, “Send feedback” to Google on how it is working, “Help” to navigate between a number of questions on how things function, and the last option to “Sign out” from the website. It also supports desktop notifications every time a new SMS message is received along with the option to toggle the content of the messages in the notification.
The web version comes with a cool “dark theme” so that users don’t have any issues while using it at night along with a “High contrast mode”.
Keyboard Shortcuts and other features
Google has also added keyboard shortcuts for users who prefer them. One thing to note here is that you can’t seem to access messages if your device is not connected to the internet. You can send text, images, stickers, and emojis in your responses.
It does not look like there is a built-in GIF search in Messages for Web. In addition to that, you can compose a new message along with the option of which SIM card to use while sending the message if the user is using a dual-SIM smartphone.
There are no bells and whistles when it comes to the Web app and the app works as intended. The sync speed can improve a bit but regardless, it is a simple and functional app, similar to Google Podcasts app that Google launched two days back.