/ Google / 3 min read

Google is bringing SMS to the web

The promise of this could spell doom for (upcoming) IM platforms even as they might look to battle Whatsapp for that mobile messaging market share.

Yesterday, I tweeted that I could now access my phone's short-messaging-service (SMS) on my desktop.

For users of Whatsapp Web, this will be a familiar sight.

Of course, Google is making this possible via none other than their over 2 billion-user Android Operating System using the official messaging app.

This feature update (amongst others) was announced on Monday, 18th June, 2018 and was said to have started rolling out since then till next week.

But as expected, a lot of people may not see the update anytime soon talk more of use it. This is due (in part) to the fact that a lot of Android users do not use stock android operating systems on their phones (OEMs [1] like OnePlus customise the Android OS [2] version they place on their devices e.g Oxygen OS by OnePlus builds on the OSS [3] that is Android).

This causes two problems, one - OS version updates, many users may never experience the benefits of an update because their OEMs more often than not do not bother to push new OS upgrades to old devices as it is a costly and time-consuming process. Two - for Android-specific app updates, non-Google-owned assets (hardware and software), tend to get the updates later than their Google-owned counterparts. This is somewhat logical as Google has more control over the latter. While the former, is being administered by Partners described in point one above.

Wuru wuru test: If you do not get the update between now and next week, then you probably fall into one of the groups described above.

Scenarios like these create a case to purchase a Google-manufactured phone (like Nexus and the Pixel) since they are the owners of both the hardware and the software, but I digress. However, Google recently lauched a project to help Partners (OEMs) make OS upgrades faster, it is called Project Treble. So for instance, Android P Beta became available on Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1 at about the same time it was becoming available on the Google Pixel.

How to start accessing your Android messages on the web

Preliminaries

  1. Ensure you are running Android™ 5.0 Lollipop and above
  2. Update your Messages app to the latest version from the Google Playstore

Once all that is taken care of, you can now do the following:

  • visit messages.android.com
  • click on the three vertical dots (which signify the more options menu in Android) on your phone
  • select "Messages for web"
  • scan the code with your phone

Once you vist the site, you will see an interface like (but with a visible QR):

Immediately you set your phones camera over the QR code, it will pick and open your current chats on your screen.

Also, I think it is pertinent to mention that Google with the official Android messages app, is (indirectly) turning convential texting using SMS into an IM [4] platform.

In the future, will I need a separate app for messaging?

Since, my android messsages app can allow me send GIFs, pictures, voice notes (VNs), and I can even give the receiver access to my location. Like, this is everything I relied on apps like Whatsapp for.

Trade-off? Billing for SMS service. Using this revamped text plus chat-y android messages app means I will be charged NGN4 per SMS page plus dent on my data when I sent non-text content.

Download the messages app here. Disclosure: I use a Pixel and the app comes with the phone.


1. Original Equipment Manufacturers ↩︎
2. Operating System ↩︎
3. Open Source Software ↩︎
4. Instant Messaging ↩︎

Google is bringing SMS to the web
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