Along with the upcoming Messages for web feature, the latest version of Android Messages reveals that Google is working on a Material Theme for its default RCS client. We’ve managed to enable this under development look that brings the app in line with other recently updated Google services. There is also an in-progress revamp to search functionality that includes filters and GIF lookup.
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.
Google Material Theme
The new look for Android Messages does away with the dark blue app bar and left-aligned title. Instead “Messages” — now in Google Sans — is centered with the entire app adopting a stark white theme instead of the previous gray background. The other change in the app’s message list view is a new oval FAB that notes “Start chat” with a messaging icon.
Meanwhile, this bright app bar extends to every other part of the app, including the conversation view, People & options, and Settings. The latter still features the Dark mode toggle we spotted in version 3.2, but that feature — along with Messages for web — is not yet live.
What we’ve activated is still under development, but we noticed a bug regarding the ability in People & options to assign contacts a new color. While the interface and picker remains, we are not able to set a new theme for message bubbles, the app bar, or other elements. Hopefully, this delightful customization feature remains when the new design launches and that the Material Theme does not enforce a strictly white UI.
The new Material Theme going hand-in-hand with a redesigned search experience that includes filters to refine by Links, Locations, Photos, and Videos. Up top there is a new rounded search bar that includes shortcuts to recent contacts, while the aforementioned filters are present underneath in a carousel of rounded cards.
<string name=”zero_state_search_box_text_hint”>Search messages</string>
<string name=”zero_state_search_clear_button_content_description”>Clear search</string>
<string name=”zero_state_search_dropdown_free_text”>Search for \”%s\”</string>
<string name=”zero_state_search_no_results_found”>No matching results</string>
<string name=”zero_state_search_try_again”>”Try clearing the search box and starting over”</string>
In addition to stickers and emoji, Google is planning on adding GIF search to Android Messages’ repertoire of expressive features.
<string name=”p2p_conversation_suggestion_gif_search_action”>Gif search action</string>
<string name=”p2p_conversation_suggestion_gif_search_description”>Search %s gifs</string>
Expanded spam reporting
When blocking a number in Android Messages, users already have the option to “Report as spam.” It appears that Google is planning to expand that capability with a reporting feature that forwards “the spammer’s last messages (up to 10) and their number to Google” to help “reduce spam.”
<string name=”report_spam_checkbox_body”>”Help reduce spam by forwarding the spammer’s last messages (up to 10) and their number to Google”</string>
Refined location sharing
Android Messages lets users send their location with a Google Maps link. However, this feature is limited only to your absolute current location. In the future, you will be able to pan around on the map and even send the location of “Nearby places.”
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_marker_title”>Current location marker</string>
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_my_location”>Move map marker to my location</string>
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_nearby_distance”>%1$d m</string>
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_nearby_header”>Nearby places</string>
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_select_bar_label”>Select this location</string>
<string name=”location_attachment_picker_title”>Attach location</string>
Like in Gboard, the ability to favorite stickers is coming to Android. Users will be able to “Double tap to mark as favorite” and rearrange the order to provide quick access given the countless number of packs that are available across Google’s services.
<string name=”empty_favorites_message”>Your favorite sticker will show up here!</string>
<string name=”favorites_prompt_message”>”You might like these. Add new stickers as favorites and they’ll show up here.”</string>
<string name=”cd_browse_sticker_packs_item_view_favorite_icon”>This sticker pack has been marked as favorite</string>
<string name=”cd_close”>Close sticker gallery</string>
<string name=”cd_empty_favorite_image”>Empty Favorites Image</string>
<string name=”cd_favorite_off_icon”>Double tap to mark as favorite</string>
<string name=”cd_favorite_on_icon”>Double tap to unmark as favorite</string>
<string name=”cd_favorite_sticker_packs_item_view_drag_to_order_icon”>Drag to order this favorite pack</string>
<string name=”cd_favorite_sticker_packs_item_view_favorite_off_icon”>Double tap to mark as favorite</string>
<string name=”cd_favorite_sticker_packs_item_view_favorite_on_icon”>Double tap to unmark as favorite</string>
How to update?
Android Messages 3.3 is rolling out now via the Play Store. We do not post APKs to download directly given the legal challenges associated with copyright and possibility of removal. Meanwhile, that model moving forward is perilous given upcoming system-level changes from Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.
Dylan contributed to this article