Google is rolling out a handful of new features for Messages today to make the core experience more convenient, like a YouTube PiP. This follows a similar set of announcements back in March.

As we spotted last month, you can respond to SMS texts using emoji reactions when communicating with iPhone users or in a group conversation with other Android devices. Like with RCS today, you just long-press on the text and will be presented with seven characters. iPhone recipients will receive the message in the following format: [emoji] to “[X message…].”

Meanwhile, Messages is also getting the ability to reply to individual messages with RCS. Just swipe right (or long press and tap the reply button) to allow for more direct responses and communication. 

Google Messages already lets you play YouTube links inline, and you can now experience them with PiP (picture-in-picture). By default, the PiP windows appear at the top of the screen but you can move it around to chat and watch simultaneously. The floating player closes when you exit a conversation.

To be more assistive, Google will suggest conversations to star if a message includes addresses, phone numbers, door codes, and other information that you might want to quickly access later. These suggestions also apply to generating Meet calls (“Can you talk now?”) and creating Calendar events (“Let’s meet at 6 pm on Tuesday”) when contextually relevant. These prompts work in a private, on-device manner and data does not get shared. Similarly, Messages will let you set manual reminders that alert you about a particular text whenever you want. It’s similar to Snoozing in Gmail and the resulting notification will let you delay the reminder by another hour. 

The just-announced Voice Message Transcription capability for the Pixel 7 is coming to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, Pixel 6a, Samsung Galaxy S22, and Galaxy Fold 4, with Google interested in doing more to improve the voice messaging experience going forward. 

The Google Search and Maps feature that lets reach businesses by text is coming to the Messages app as part of an experiment in some countries.

Lastly, Google is working with airlines to offer free RCS messaging over in-flight Wi-Fi. The first partner this fall is United on most cell carriers with plans to expand in the future.

Speaking of RCS, Google said this week that work on group end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for Messages remains on track for a rollout that will start later this year and continue into 2023.

Some features (replies and transcription) are already available in the Google Messages beta, while others like the YouTube PiP and SMS reactions will “begin rolling out in the coming weeks.”

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Abner Li

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