Goodbye, Google Messenger: Android Messages is the new flagship messaging app

Messaging is an integral part of business for companies like Apple, Facebook, and Snap. Their respective platforms open up communication between people in unique ways. Google, however, has struggled for years to figure out messaging. A new messaging platform debuts every year or two and another is left behind. Then the entire strategy is overhauled and the same thing happens.

Google just made an unannounced change to its most popular app for messaging, Google Messenger.

While Google isn’t changing its messaging app’s look and feel today, Google Messenger is no longer the name used. Now Android devices around the world are being switched over to Android Messages. It’s a head-scratching rebrand that’s not quite necessary as the new name doesn’t add anything. Actually, you could even say it’s a move in the wrong direction as the previous name was pretty open and flexible, especially if Google opens up cross-platform messaging in the future. The Android Messages name is pretty strict and focuses on exclusively on Android rather than other platforms like web and Chrome OS. If you’re confused, you’re certainly not alone.

The changelog for Android Messages on the Play Store listing that previously belonged to Google Messenger says it’s the same app with a different name. In addition, Google included bug fixes and stability improvements. But we could be on the verge of seeing a much-anticipated feature become widely available soon.

Google notes that activating “enhanced features on supported carriers” is “simpler” than before. A reference to Rich Communication Services (RCS) is likely as Sprint in the United States, Rogers in Canada, and Telenor in Europe and Asia are already implementing the standard. For those of use unfamiliar with RCS, think of it as an iMessage-like way of communicating. Group chat, high quality photo-sharing, and read receipts become available across all devices. Multiple companies have their own way of approaching this, but Google’s might be the one to rise above the rest. Partners around the world are agreeing to follow the standard built upon Google’s acquisition of Jibe Mobile in 2015.

Many people are shocked, too, since Allo and its struggles aren’t being addressed in a timely manner. Everyone expected Allo to be Google’s messaging platform for today and the future, but that hasn’t panned out in the slightest. Users want the app to have something as simple as SMS support. Yet Allo’s developers are focusing on things like desktop support. Sure, desktop support is important but SMS support is needed.

Until anything is official when it comes to new features, Android Messages is the same messaging app from Google we’ve known for almost three years. The name is different, but the features haven’t changed very much.

We just wish Google would strip its communication strategy down to maybe three apps — Phone, Android Messages (with a better name, like Google Messenger), and Duo. End the chaos already and catch up to Apple and other competitors.

Download it now: Google Play

About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.

  • Eskimo Monkey

    I always thought Hangouts was a decent option… I could combine non-SMS conversations with my SMS and Google Voice conversations

    • Timbeans

      Yep, seems mostly that the issue with Hangouts really was just poor marketing. It literally had everything and worked so well.. I have a hunch they are going to build all those features into messange, as it has the greatest useage and popularity of all Google current messenger apps.

  • ZBlade

    This move by Google, is pretty much telling me that they have no plans on giving Allo SMS support any time soon. If they do give Allo SMS support, it will make Android messenger redundant.

  • Well, this news come as a surprise. What will be the future of Allo application. Let wait for sometime then see what google do about it.

  • osgoodschlotter

    After owning every single Nexus phone, I picked up an iPhone 6s today. I’ve been at my wit’s end for a few years with Hangouts, and the lack of progress/evolution in Android messaging. I have a few other nitpick items, but the (poor) integration of Google Voice/Hangouts has just pushed me over the edge. I ported out of GVoice and am now taking my first ever test drive on an iPhone. I must say that iMessages is pretty damn nice so far… and now I know what I’ve been missing all these years.

    I hate to use a cliche phrase, but, I didn’t leave you, Google, you left me. :(