Google is celebrating a major milestone in its mission to make RCS messaging the standard messaging standard used around the world instead of the outdated SMS and MMS protocols: more than one billion users are now actively using Google Messages with RCS enabled.
Google has made a heavy push for RCS in the last decade. RCS enables features such as the exchange of high-quality media files and end-to-end encryption in the native SMS/MMS apps on Android devices; since RCS is built into the native SMS/MMS app, it can fall back on those traditional standards when there is no internet connection.
New Google Messages features make conversations more vibrant
RCS is similar to Apple’s iMessage, though Apple uses its in-house protocol which makes iMessage incompatible with RCS and Android devices in general. But Apple recently caved and announced that it will be adding RCS support to iPhones next year, a move Google has welcomed with open arms.
At the same time, to celebrate its billion-RCS-users milestone, the internet giant is releasing seven new features to the Google Messages app, which is the default messaging app on many Android devices, including those launched by Samsung after 2020.
Google says these seven new features are designed to “help your personality shine through“. The features include Photomoji, which can turn your photos into reactions; Google has also added reaction effects, which animate traditional reactions like the thumbs up sign. Similarly, Google Messages will also animate emojis that are sent as a message in a chat.
Then there are screen effects, which animate the entire screen when phrases such as “I love you” are detected in the chat. Furthermore, users can customize the message bubble’s color and the background of each conversation, and they can also personalize their profile name and picture accompanying their phone number with the Profiles feature.
For voice messaging, Google is introducing Voice Moods, which lets you send voice messages with an emoji that is displayed alongside the voice message so the recipient can “hear your words along with a visual effect that expresses how you’re feeling at that moment“. Audio quality of voice messages has been improved as well thanks to an increased bitrate and sampling rate.
Google Messages beta users can try out the features starting today
All of these features are rolling out for Google Messages users who are using the app’s beta version. Google isn’t saying when the features will be released globally on the non-beta app, so if you want to try them out right now, you can sign up to be a beta tester by clicking this link and following the instructions.