Rich Communication Services (RCS) can be thought of as the next generation of SMS. Google has been pushing for the adoption of RCS for a while now, but the service hasn’t seen huge traction owing to strong competition from the likes of rich messaging clients such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and the like. While RCS can be more native to the OS, it still lacks the abilities of the competitors.
However, that feature gap might be being reduced further, as an APK teardown of the latest Google Messages beta app hints at features such as message reactions and the ability to draw on images being built into the app. The firm’s messaging efforts haven’t been exactly fruitful, which is why Google is putting its weight behind RCS through the native messaging app on Android to make it a viable alternative to its competitors - which also includes Apple’s iMessage. It is expected to officially bring RCS support to more regions.
Google Messages is working on Reactions— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) February 13, 2020
which totally doesn’t look like Facebook Messenger at all pic.twitter.com/mHxokE89yV
The type of reactions that the app might bring include a thumbs up or down emoji, angry face, face with tears of joy, crying face, face with open mouth, and more. The search giant has also added some animations to go with the reactions. As is with other messaging apps, users have to long-press on a message to be able to add a reaction. However, the source states that the feature does not work yet, probably as it is still being built into the app.
As for the ability to draw on images, that feature is similar to the doodling functionality on Google Duo. It provides users with tools such as highlighter, calligraphy, and draw mode, and a multitude of colors to choose from.
In addition to these features, the source was also able to enable a new layout for the app’s homepage. The changes include a new floating search bar akin to what is present on Gmail or Photos. The overhaul brings in more design consistency between Google’s native apps on the platform.
Since these are features still being developed, it is no guarantee that these will make it to the app. You can navigate here to sign up for the Google Messages beta program or by heading to the Play Store here and scrolling to the bottom of the listing to join the beta.