Version 2.9 of Android Messages is rolling out and a teardown reveals that Google has very big plans for its official SMS/RCS client. Currently in development is an Allo-like web client that would allow users to check and reply to messages on the web. Meanwhile, this latest update also reveals Google Pay integration and a push to increase RCS adoption.
About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.
Android Messages for web
Recent versions of Android Messages contained a string referencing the ability to “Scan QR Code.”
<string name=”action_scan_qr_code”>Scan QR Code</string>
Assumed to be a standard QR code reader for a feature like adding contacts, version 2.9 updates the line to “Messages for web,” while other strings explicitly describe an Allo-like web client that’s enabled by scanning a QR code. From what we’ve managed to enable, the button to set up the web app will be located in Messages’ overflow menu.
<string name=”action_scan_qr_code”>Messages for web</string>
<string name=”qr_code_scanner_hint_text”>Scan the QR code shown on <b>%s</b></string>
<string name=”qr_delete_all_paired_desktops_button_text”>Sign out all computers</string>
<string name=”qr_simplified_welcome_banner_url_text”>Go to <b>%s</b> on your computer</string>
<string name=”qr_success_text_view”>”You’re all set!”</string>
<string name=”qr_welcome_banner_url_text”>On your computer, go to %s</string>
<string name=”qr_welcome_bottom_text”>Use your phone to scan the QR code on your computer screen</string>
<string name=”qr_welcome_button_text”>Scan QR code</string>
After a web log-in, users will receive a confirmation on their phones as suggested by a new notification channel entitled “Web.”
<string name=”ditto_foreground_service_notification_title”>Connected to desktop</string>
Meanwhile, there will be various controls to manage computer sign-ins, like mass sign out and deleting paired desktops.
<string name=”paired_desktops_header_text”>Signed in computers</string>
<string name=”paired_desktops_last_connection_time”>Last active %s</string>
<string name=”delete_all_paired_desktops_dialog_title”>Sign out of all computers?</string>
<string name=”delete_paired_desktop_button_content_description”>Delete paired desktop: %s</string>
<string name=”delete_paired_desktop_dialog_title”>Sign out from %s?</string>
<string name=”delete_paired_desktop_positive_button_text”>Sign out</string>
In terms of browser compatibility, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari all appear to be supported.
<string name=”desktop_browser_type_ie”>Internet Explorer</string>
Messages for web will be an optional “chat feature” that can be enabled/disabled at anytime in the app’s settings. While we are aware of the implementation details, it’s still unclear whether all carriers will be supported, or if this will be solely limited to something like Project Fi.
The former option would make Android Messages a real and direct competitor to something like Apple’s iMessage and of course bring this feature to all Android users.
<string name=”failed_qr_pairing_dialog_message”>Something went wrong. Try again in a few minutes.</string>
<string name=”fast_track_negative_button_text”>NO THANKS</string>
<string name=”fast_track_popup_accepted_snack_bar_text”>”We’ll let you know when chat features are ready.”</string>
<string name=”fast_track_popup_declined_snack_bar_text”>You can turn on chat features anytime in Settings.</string>
<string name=”fast_track_positive_button_text”>”YES, I’M IN”</string>
Meanwhile, strings in version 2.9 note the ability to purchase items in the app and “Buy with Google.” Such functionality is in line with the other business features supported by RCS.
<string name=”wallet_buy_button_place_holder”>Buy with Google</string>
<string name=”conversation_suggestion_payment_request_action”>Payment request action</string>
<string name=”rbm_payments_activity_name”>Payments Summary</string>
<string name=”rbm_payments_summary_order_title”>Order summary</string>
Push to enable RCS features
The other big aspect in version 2.9 of Android Messages is a push to increase RCS adoption with a new onboarding prompt that encourages users to “Enable chat features.” Google is driving home RCS features like high-quality photo sharing, texting over Wi-Fi and data, and read receipts for both text and images.
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_subtitle_1″>Plus you can text over Wi-Fi, share high-quality photos, and more</string>
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_subtitle_2″>Plus you can share high-quality photos and more</string>
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_subtitle_3″>Plus you can text over Wi-Fi, see when friends read your messages, and more</string>
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_subtitle_4″>Upgrade messages to get the latest texting features</string>
<string name=”message_status_media_seen_by_all”>Seen by all</string>
Of note, is how the app refers to these features as “powered by Google.” The company is working with partners, like Huawei, on RCS infrastructure, but it’s unclear if Google has decided to take a more active role as part of this push.
<string name=”rcs_success_popup_body_single_sim”>Chat messaging features you turned on are now ready to use in select conversations. Learn more in Settings.</string>
<string name=”rcs_success_popup_title_single_sim”>You now have chat features</string>
<string name=”setting_fast_track_body”>Chat features are powered by Google. By continuing, you accept the %1$s.</string>
<string name=”settings_fast_track_dialog_title”>Enable chat features?</string>
Of course, users can retain the option to stick to using SMS.
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_button_negative_dont_upgrade”>”Don’t Upgrade App”</string>
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_button_negative_no_sms_only”>No, Use SMS Only</string>
<string name=”conversation_list_rcs_promo_button_negative_sms_only”>Use SMS Only</string>
Android Messages might be planning a revamp of its camera interface with a pair of new strings. Namely, the ability to take still images while recording video in the app.
<string name=”camera_switch_to_still_mode”>Capture a still image</string>
Lastly, we’ve spotted Android Messages working on two new icons. The former is a camera, while the latter appears to be a typing indicator. It’s not clear what features these icons are associated with.
Dylan contributed to this article