Google Messages reaches 1 billion RCS users, and unleashes 7 new features to celebrate

RCS is officially big. In fact, there are 1 billion monthly active users. Google announced this milestone today, and to celebrate, it has given the Messages app 7 new features. Obviously, these will “help your personality shine through.” But they won’t make RCS bubbles blue on iOS.

RCS, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is a new standard that’s supposed to replace legacy SMS and MMS, Google says, though it’s still used as a backup, so not so much a “replacement” as a “boost.” . Anyway, the point is that it’s like iMessage but for Android phones.

Google has been pushing it a lot — and we mean that a lot – In recent years, it seems that her efforts have not been in vain at all. RCS has typing indicators, read receipts, threaded replies, high-quality media sharing, improved group conversations, and better privacy.


Now let’s get to the new features. First, Photomoji. As the name suggests, this allows you to turn an image into an interaction using Google AI on the device. All of these creations are then saved to a special tab for when you want to reuse them. Your friends in group chats can use any Photomoji you’ve sent, too.


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Next, vocal mood. These are animated emojis that are superimposed over a voice message, in order to visually express how you are feeling at that moment. The audio message bit rate and sampling rate have also been increased to improve perceived quality.

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Screen Effects enable vibrant animations to take over your entire screen, when you type specific messages like “It’s snowing” or “I love you,” for example. There are more than 15 of them, but they are hidden, so Google wants us to discover them.


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Next, custom bubbles — you’ll never be able to do that on iMessage, that’s for sure. You can customize the bubble color and background for any of your conversations. You can choose a different color for each conversation if you want – Facebook Messenger themes welcome you.


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Google says reaction effects add “more life to your conversations.” It works on the ten most popular emojis, and when you interact with one of them, the reaction will animate on the message you’re interacting with.


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Animated emojis are just visual effects of a specific emoji, which are triggered only when you send a specific emoji — WhatsApp has something similar, for example.


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Finally, Google Messages now contain profiles. You can customize your profile name and photo that will then accompany your phone number. The company says this “addresses the issue of receiving messages from phone numbers not saved in your contacts,” and can be especially useful in group chats so you know who all the members are.

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Now for the problem. These new features will be made available first in the beta version of the Messages app, and not even all at once. Google says “many” of these features will be available in the beta channel today. We’re not sure about that, and the company didn’t clarify that, so who knows. Hopefully it won’t take long for them to stream into the stable channel.

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