Android Messages for the Web Is a Game Changer

Source: Blog.Google

A few weeks ago when I opened Messages, the text messaging app on my Pixel 2 XL, I was prompted to visit messages.android.com to set up text messaging from my browser. I had missed their announcement, so this came as a pleasant surprise to me. I scanned in a QR code on my phone to set it up and within a minute I had sent my first text message from the web.

This is a feature I’ve REALLY wanted for years. Most of the day I’m working on my computer. Instead of pulling out my phone to check a message and reply, I can reply right from my computer. I can read a message on my Garmin smartwatch, so my flow now goes something like this: phone and wrist vibrate, I glance at my wrist, if it’s an unimportant message I’ll leave it for later, if it’s important I’ll open a new tab and reply. It’s much faster, much more convenient. And if I need to send a longer text message I’d much prefer to type it on my computer than on my phone (previously I would sometimes type up the message in Google Keep, which syncs between computer and phone, and then copy and paste it into Messages).

For such a seemingly simple feature, there is quite a bit of technology behind it to make it fast and secure. It actually pairs with your phone to sync and send messages, meaning the messages are still being sent from your phone:

While the idea here is nothing new, the fact that it’s a core part of Messages is a pretty big deal, because it doesn’t require any workarounds or messages being sent through third-party servers. It establishes a secured connection between your phone and your computer.

This Business Insider article Google just updated text messaging for Android, and it completely changed the way I text does a great job of summarizing why such a simple feature is such a big deal.

From a user standpoint, what’s so refreshing about this feature is that utter simplicity. Google has screwed up chat and messaging apps for years. This is just a practical, useful feature, with advanced technology behind it, that’s been executed perfectly.

4 comments on Android Messages for the Web Is a Game Changer

  1. Rob says:

    It is interesting, a number of 3rd party apps have filled this role in the past – I’ve used pushbullet, mightytext and airdroid. I like that those are all app- agnostic in terms of what you have set as the default sms app on the phone, but I dislike that they’re 3rd party services and thus there are security/privacy concerns. Mightytext is the best for messaging, but airdroid has some other really useful features. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I use Textra as my SMS app – it’s absolutely incredible in terms of usability, look/feel, searching message history with a calendar view etc. I also tend to set every app I have to dark mode immediately, as it’s lower battery usage on an AMOLED screen and tends to be nicer on the eyes, so I like that textra can do that. I think is was about £2 to remove the ads, so not a huge expense! The default android sms app unfortunately doesn’t come close to textra, and it’s a shame it’s a requirement to set it as the default app to use the messages.android.com service. Not sure if I can be convinced to switch because of that 🙁

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Rob,

      I’ve always avoided the 3rd parties because of the security and privacy concerns you mentioned (and I guess also laziness on my part in not having any interest in finding an alternative). Textra looks great – I’m with you on the dark mode, I would prefer that. I also like that you can schedule messages, I would use that for sure. But…it’s probably not enough to get me to switch now that I can send via the web. I’m kind of in the same boat you are.

      – Adam

      • Rob says:

        Just a quick followup to this – something seems to have changed. I briefly set messages as my default sms app, then set it back to textra. I’m now able to use textra as my default app but also still use messages.android.com, which is the best of both worlds! I recommend you give it a go.

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