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Google Messages vs. Samsung Messages

Amidst the rise of third-party messaging apps, texting still remains a popular way of messaging, especially in the U.S. If you own an Android phone, you’ve likely used or heard of Google Messages, which is positioned as the default messaging app for Android — even though the platform’s inclusiveness allows users to select any messaging app of their choice. Meanwhile, Samsung Messages is the default messaging app exclusively available on Samsung smartphones. If you’re planning to buy a new Galaxy phone, then you’re likely to be using Samsung Messages soon. But should you swap? Here’s what you should about the differences between Google Messages and Samsung Messages.

Android’s openness is quite the opposite of iOS, where Apple not only forbids users from changing default apps but also uses tactics to help iOS users feel superior to those with Android devices. Ironically, instead of losing consumers to this negativity, Apple has gained more users who also want the exclusive experience. That may be why Google has been trying to chart the same course by prioritizing its own apps, instead of those provided by manufacturers.

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Google has tried to pursue manufacturers to use Messages as their default since at least 2017, but given the fragmentation in the Android ecosystem, it has remained distant from its dream. The giant, however, did manage to convince many companies to use Messages as the default app on their “Tier 1” phones. Meanwhile,  Samsung continues to reject this and still uses its own messaging app, also called Messages — Samsung Messages, as the default messaging app on Samsung smartphones across all price categories.

Notably, you can install Google Messages on just about any Android phone including Samsung devices from the Play Store but Samsung Messages is only available for Samsung devices.

Unique Features in Google Messages

  • Automatic message sorting in categories
  • Auto-delete for banking- or login-related One Time Pins (OTPs) 24 hours after receiving
  • Google Assistant-powered message attachments

Unique Features in Samsung Messages

  • Recycle bin
  • Chat screen customization

Differences between Google Messages and Samsung Messages

Welcome interface

The welcome interface on Google Messages has many similarities with Samsung Messages in terms of functionality despite having visibly different interfaces. Both apps show messages grouped into conversations on the opening screen.

Google Messages welcome screen with search bar and automatic sorting tags against light blue background.

Google Messages has a search bar on the top of the welcome screen with a three-dot button at the right side of the bar to open the overflow menu. Below the search bar, Google Messages has tags that automatically sort messages into different categories such as Personal, Transactions, OTPs, and Offers.

In Google Messages, you can choose the option to enable auto-delete for OTPs 24 hours after they have been received to reduce the clutter in your message inbox. You can also choose the primary category that appears when you open the app.

Google Messages welcome screen with OTP automatic delete option and swipe gesture to archive messages against light blue background.

Google Messages lets you archive messages by swiping over them, but unlike the Gmail app on Android, you cannot customize these controls to configure the action associated with swiping over messages. A “Start Chat” button for composing new messages is positioned at the bottom right side of the screen and it compresses into a smaller icon as you scroll down.

Lastly, Google Messages also lets you choose between the light and dark themes for the interface in case you do not wish it to be synchronized with the system theme. Just like every app from the tech giant, Google Messages also has a dark gray tint for the dark mode.

Coming to Samsung Messages, the first thing you notice is that the list of messages starts mid-way through the display instead of starting at the top. This is in adherence to Samsung’s One UI interface that is designed to facilitate one-handed use. The top half of the display is used to display the number of unread messages, and you can tap on the View button under this counter to look at a list of only unread messages.

Welcome screens on Samsung Messages and Google Messages on Samsung smartphones against a light blue background.
Samsung Messages (left) and Google Messages on Samsung smartphones running One UI 3.1 and higher (right)

Notably, the Google Messages app on Samsung flagships also reciprocates the same design element where the list of conversations begins from half of the display.

Unlike Google Messages’ search bar, there is a search icon on Samsung Messages, and tapping on it opens up a separate page for search results. Meanwhile, a three-dot button beside the search icon opens the overflow menu. Just like Google Messages, a button for composing new messages lies at the bottom of the display

Samsung Messages with search results and manually added Bankig categories against a blue background.

Samsung Messages also lets you sort messages in different categories but with a major drawback. You have to add message categories in Samsung Messages manually and then also add conversations to those categories. With automatic sorting, Google Messages makes it much easier than Samsung Messages to keep your SMS inbox clean and filtered by purpose.

The swipe-to-archive feature is not present on Samsung Messages, which is ironic since Samsung’s phone app has supported actions by swiping over contact names for nearly a decade.

Talking of the dark mode, you cannot manually choose between light and dark modes on Samsung Messages and it is synchronized with the mode selected on the smartphone. Samsung uses two colors for the background, including a lighter gray that Google Messages behind the list of conversations and a layer of black behind the gray area.

Samsung Messages dark theme mode and recycle bin against a light blue background.
Dual-tone dark mode (left) and Recycle bin (right) in Samsung Messages

Lastly, Samsung Message comes with one advantage over Google Messages and that is a Recycle Bin. This Recycle Bin stores the messages deleted by the user in the last 30 days in case they wish to retrieve them.

Composing and replying to messages

With similar button positioning to start a new message and a similar process of initiating a new conversation, Google Messages and Samsung Messages vary a great deal in terms of how the apps function and what attachments they support.

Composing messages in Google Messages with GIFs and images against a light blue background.

Google Messages shows you a list of contacts including your top contacts to set the recipient for the message. Once you enter the details of the recipient, you are taken to the screen for composing the message. You can start typing right away in the space at the bottom of the display or tap on the time icon with a camera in it to send images. You can also send emojis, GIFs, and Stickers or communicate using voice messages. There are plenty of other options for what you can send with Google Messages, including files, contacts, and location.

Attachement options and suggested responses in Google Messages against a light blue background.

You can also send information about the weather at your location, particulars of a restaurant, and suggestions for new movies available in your region. These options are powered by Google Assistant but should work fine on every Android unless you have disabled Google Assistant. Google Messages also offers Quick Replies, powered by the Google Assistant. These offer easily tapped reply messages based on what the A.I. thinks might be suitable.

Lastly, you can also schedule a message to be sent later in the future.

Samsung Messages also offers a major portion of the features available in Google Messages while composing new messages. Other than text, you can compose new messages or reply to conversations with photos or from the gallery or ones clicked directly using the camera.

Samsung Messages image upload or capture using camera options against a light blue background.

Send voice notes or stickers using the dedicated buttons alongside the message box or tap the “+” button to send audios, contacts, calendar events, and location to the other person. You can also send messages with subjects to stress their importance or schedule messages to send them later.

You can also use the “Quick response” menu to keep the small talk going. However, unlike Google Messages, the list of suggested responses only contains a set of common replies that are not customized by an A.I.

Message attachments and quick responses in Samsung Messages against a light blue background.

As one would expect, Samsung Messages does not come with any messaging options that rely on Google Assistant. Nor does it make use of the company’s own virtual assistant, Bixby.

Another interesting feature present on Samsung Messages, but missing on Google Messages, is the ability to customize a chat’s background and message bubble colors. You can either choose a custom color for the chat background or apply a picture as the background to change the feel of the chat altogether. The background and custom colors can either be chosen for a particular chat or applied to all chats with a single tap.

Samsung Message chat customization features against a light blue background.

If your smartphone is running Android 11 and above, you can view newly received messages in collapsible bubbles similar to what is used by the Facebook Messager app. In both the messengers, you also get direct buttons to call a person using the phone or Google Duo.

RCS/Chat features

A lot of these dainty features we mentioned above for both Google Messages and Samsung Messages rely on RCS, a messaging service for sending and receiving messages beyond simple text (SMS) or low-quality images or videos (MMS).

RCS or Rich Communication Services is a messaging protocol envisioned to be the successor to SMS and MMS. Although the standard was first described by the GSM Association in 2007, it did not become commonplace until 2015 when Google bought a company called Jibe Mobile that used to provide back-end services for RCS to mobile carriers.

In 2018, Google introduced Chat, an RCS-backed service that would allow users to send and receive rich multimedia such as emojis, HD videos, GIFs, share read receipts and even show the other person as typing in real-time. All of these features were at the time either limited to internet messengers like WhatsApp or to iMessage but only for Apple users. But unlike Apple’s iMessage, RCS was not singly owned by one company and therefore widely available for use by every carrier and phone manufacturer.

To spur the growth of RCS, Google introduced Chat features in the Messages on Android in 2018 and then, partnered with carriers in the U.S. to enable these Chat features on smartphones. Samsung also partnered with Google and extended its support to enable cohesive RCS messaging across Samsung and other Android devices.

RCS Chat messaging features in Samsung Messages and Google Messages against a light blue background.
RCS Chat features in Samsung Messages and Google Messages

At present, RCS-based messaging is more widely present in many parts of the world, across numerous carriers and Android devices. However, Google Messages and Samsung Messages are predominantly the only first-party messaging apps that support RCS messaging.

To enable Chat features on either Google Messages or Samsung Messages, go to Chat settings. Both the apps also allow you to disable RCS messaging if you prefer that.

Desktop continuity

Google Messages allows you to view and reply to messages from your phone on a computer by using the “Device pairing” option from the three-dot menu on the welcome screen. Just like on WhatsApp for web, you have to open Google Messages for web on your PC browser and link up your phone. You must note that to be able to send or receive messages directly from the PC, your phone must also be connected to the internet.

On the other hand, you cannot extend Samsung Messages to your PC as simply as Google Messages. You can, however, use the Your Phone Companion app to link your Android device with your Windows PC to enjoy a superior form of continuity between your smartphone and your PC. Besides viewing and responding to messages, you can also make calls, view and manage notifications, copy or drag-and-drop text or files across your phone and PC, access your phone’s storage, and even cast the phone’s display onto the PC’s screen.

It must be noted that Your Phone Companion is not limited to Samsung devices and can be used with any Android device, including those running Google Messages.

Unfortunately, this is limited to Windows machines and will not be possible if you use a Mac. For MacOS, you can use third-party tools like AirDroid or KDE Connect.

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