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New Google Messages features that we’re still waiting for [U]

Like most Google apps, Messages A/B tests many features. However, it takes the RCS/SMS client a rather long time to actually launch these capabilities in stable even after they are announced.

Recent launches

In beta testing

Gemini in Google Messages

Update 4/2: This chatbot lets you talk to Gemini and started widely rolling out to beta testers on March 26. The experience has been optimized to provide more concise responses that are ideal on phones. Available features include access to Gemini Extensions (Gmail, Drive, Maps, YouTube, etc.) and image generation.

To access, tap the “Start chat” FAB where “Gemini: Write, plan, learn, and more with Google AI” will appear at the top of your contacts list. The UI is identical to every other conversation except for the removal of voice memos. In fact, you can even set Custom Bubbles and upload images for analysis.


Update 3/25: Profiles let you specify what name and picture other users see in a conversation. If the person you’re talking to has set up a Profile, that is the image you’ll see inside Google Messages going forward, thus replacing any contact photos you’ve manually added. However, Google will not override the contact name you have set. 

This first started rolling out in mid-November for some users in Messages settings > Advanced > Profile discovery. As of last week, it’s seeing wider availability, with most people noticing how contact photos have changed in RCS conversations. You cannot alter this behavior for other people.

Custom Bubbles with RCS backgrounds

Update 3/15: Earlier this week, Custom Bubbles rolled out to many more beta users. It’s not yet widely available in stable. Besides “Change colors” in a conversation’s overflow menu, you can access it from the Contact Details page. This is not available to SMS conversations, only RCS.

It will bring up a UI for selecting one of nine options: Default (Material You Dynamic Color theming), Blue, Fuchsia, Green, Monochrome, Orange, Pink, Purple, and Turquoise. Your conversation will also get a bubbly background that’s apparent with light themes. We don’t really see it when dark mode is set.

More Screen Effects

Screen Effects briefly take over the Google Messages app. In November, Google teased over 15, but we’ve only encountered two so far:

  • “I love you” and “Happy Valentine’s Day”
  • “Sounds good”

Magic Compose 

On the Pixel 8 Pro and Galaxy S24, these suggestions and message rewrites work on-device using Gemini Nano. For all other devices, conversations are sent to the cloud.

Upcoming features

These are Messages features that Google announced or have been spotted in the wild by beta users.

Audio recorder redesign with Noise Cancellation and Voice Moods 

In late November, Google announced Voice Moods to visually theme the audio waveform with “sprinkle heart-eye emoji, fume with fireballs, or break out the party popper.” There are nine in total so that recipients can “hear your words along with a visual effect that expresses how you’re feeling at that moment.”

However, the bigger change is a redesign of the voice recording UI so that it opens as a dedicated panel with large controls after tapping the button. Previously, your only option was long-pressing to keep recording. This is coupled with Noise Cancellation that increases the bitrate and sampling rate. The revamp is live for only some users, but we haven’t seen Voice Moods yet.

Photo preview screen

After taking a picture using the inline camera, you’re taken to a new attachment screen instead of the image immediately appearing in the compose box. You get a fullscreen preview with the ability to “Write a message…” “Send” is in the corner, as well as “Add more” to take you back to the conversation and attach more. This intermediary screen is similar to the WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

New conversation picker

Instead of a pop-up called “Select conversation,” you get a fullscreen “Select recipients” UI with “Recent conversations” listed first. You then get a full list of contacts. This appeared for some users and then was pulled.

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