While we previously knew that Google was working on turning its Android Messages app into a true iMessage competitor to take on Apple’s iPhone, we now have more details on how that will work. Google will soon allow Android Messages users to send and receive text messages from a computer using a web browser.
Source code within the Android Messages app show that texting from a PC or Mac requires users to navigate to the messages.android.com portal, which is not yet live, to link their phone, according to XDA-Developers.
Once users navigate to the site, they’ll be presented with a QR code that can be scanned on the phone for pairing. A Google account is required, and users will be able to seamlessly send and receive messages, switching off between their phones and desktop. This is similar to how Apple allows iMessage to work between an iPhone, iPad, and a Mac. Being able to use a desktop keyboard will hopefully allow you to type faster and more accurately, eliminating those embarrassing autocorrect mistakes.
The setup process to link the Android Messages app on your phone to your computer is similar to how Google Allo for web currently works. Given that there will be a lot of overlap between Messages and Allo, it’s unclear if Google intends on phasing out the latter. Google also supports Hangouts and Google Voice as its other messaging platforms.
While the service is expected to work with traditional text (SMS) messages and picture and video messages (MMS), it will also support the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol. Google is positioning RCS as the successor to today’s text message since it comes with more advanced features, such as the ability to show read receipts, see typing indicators, and send larger image and video files, up to 10MB in size. It’s Android Messages RCS support that gave away hints of a desktop client, according to Android Authority
All modern web browsers are supported, and you’ll be able to switch between your phone and your PC to send and receive messages. Given that the source code is there, it’s just a matter of time before Google makes this feature official.
A messaging client on the desktop will allow Google to tie the Android experience into other computing platforms. While Mac and Windows users will be able to use their laptops and desktops to message on a larger screen, the new messaging capabilities would integrate nicely with Android tablets and Google’s Chrome OS products, including new Chrome OS-based tablets.
While there are existing third-party solutions, like Pushbullet, that allow users to send messages from their computers, a native solution from Google promises to be more seamless. PC manufacturers, such as HP and Dell, are also building clients on some of their laptops to allow business users to easily send a message from their PCs using a paired Android or iPhone.