As Google starts rolling out iMessage reaction translations, Messages is readying a navigation drawer that surprisingly bucks the company’s recent design trend. Meanwhile, we have more details on how Google Photos media uploads will work.

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 case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Google Messages nav drawer

Back in October, Google Messages fully rolled out its Material You and Dynamic Color redesign. The next big visual change to SMS/RCS client is a navigation drawer. It starts with the overflow menu to the right of the search field being replaced with your profile avatar and account picker, with app settings placed here.

Google has moved many of the items listed there to a nav drawer that features the app’s icon and name at the top. “Messages” is followed by “Starred,” “Archived,” and “Spam & blocked.” “Device pairing,” “Choose theme,” and “Mark all as read” come after the main app sections. 

Over the years, Google has worked to remove navigation drawers from its apps. The Play Store was a high-profile example of that with bottom bars generally preferred. That said, apps that need to display long lists often retain their nav drawers. For example, Gmail needs to show a lot of labels and folders, as does Google Keep. 

Messages does not fit that expected rationale, but it’s somewhat of a nice change as the overflow menu was getting quite crowded.

Google Photos upload

Back in November, we detailed how Messages wants to replace low-quality MMS video upload with Google Photos. We’ve since enabled more about this upcoming integrated upload experience. 

When you’re in a conversation and open the media picker, a promo card will detail the new option:

Share videos as they’re meant to be seen 

Preserve video clarity when you send Google Photos links in MMS conversations 

Once enabled, selecting a file will cause it to appear in the compose field with a Google Photos badge and file size. This will notably work for both videos and images, with this controllable in settings. From there, Google also provides a shortcut to manage share links in the Google Photos app.

Neither of these upcoming Google Messages features are rolled out yet.

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

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com