In recent months, Google’s default Messages app has received a number of major updates including the Google Material Theme with dark mode, and advanced search filters. Now, Messages 3.8 is rolling out today with a revamped camera and gallery interface.

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.

Revamped camera and gallery UI

Our last APK Insight of Messages revealed work on a dedicated camera button to quickly take and send images. Messages 3.8 revamps the existing full-screen camera UI with a look reminiscent to Google Camera. Bottom tabs are leveraged to switch between Photo and Video modes, while flash can be enabled from the top-right corner.

This redesigned capture UI also shows your last image as part of a separate revamp to the Gallery page. It fits more pictures across with a shortcut to open system image Folders to select ones that don’t appear.

On-device Smart Reply?

Like on Gmail, Smart Reply in Messages provides useful automated responses thanks to machine learning. Google appears to be internally testing on-device Smart Reply using federated learning in Messages.

This technique — also being tested by Gboard —  preserves privacy with machine learning processing performed on-device. Improvements to the model are anonymized before being sent to the cloud, with Google aggregating the changes and then pushing them back out to devices to improve the model.

A tweak in Messages 3.8 to an existing string notes an internal link for Google employees testing the feature, with “am-fl” likely standing for federated learning in Android Messages.

Messages 3.7

<string name=”p2p_conversation_suggestions_training_enabled_pref_summary”>See announcement email for details</string>

Messages 3.8

<string name=”p2p_conversation_suggestions_training_enabled_pref_summary”>See go/am-fl-announcement for details</string>


Messages 3.8 features a number of tweaked strings regarding RCS, and adds a new graphic during the set-up process. One string warns that disabling RCS will remove you from group conversations that take advantage of the new Chat features.

<string name=”conversation_list_fast_track_popup_subtitle”>Plus chat over Wi‑Fi and data, share high‑quality photos and more with others who upgraded</string>

<string name=”conversation_list_fast_track_tos”>To turn on chat features from Google, you agree to the %1$s and %2$s</string>

<string name=”disable_rcs_warning_accept_text”>Turn off</string>

<string name=”disable_rcs_warning_text”>”You’ll be removed from any groups that use chat features”</string>

<string name=”disable_rcs_warning_title”>Turn off chat features?</string>

<string name=”discard”>Discard</string>

How to update?

Messages 3.8 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 is perilous given Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.

Dylan contributed to this article

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: