Google is beginning to roll out desktop browser support for Android Messages, allowing people to use their PC for sending messages and viewing those that have been received on their Android smartphone. Google says the feature is starting to go out to users today and continuing for the rest of the week. Text, images, and stickers are all supported on the web version.
To get started, the Android Messages website has you scan a QR code using the Android Messages mobile app, which creates a link between the two. That’s very similar to how the web client for Allo — remember Allo? — worked. Unfortunately, that section of the Messages app isn’t yet live. Hopefully it won’t be long before it shows up and you can start chatting across platforms.
This is one of the first significant steps in Google’s push towards Chat, which is the company’s implementation of Rich Communication Services (RCS) inside Android Messages. If you’re going to be a viable competitor to iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other chat platforms, a desktop version is pretty critical. Allo was one swing at that goal, but Google is pausing all efforts and investment in that failed app and betting that Android Messages — the out-of-box default messaging app on many smartphones — represents its best chance at success. Many carriers have also pledged to back Chat and integrate the benefits (read receipts, typing indicators, full-resolution images and video, and improved group texts) offered by RCS. The big downside? None of this stuff is end-to-end encrypted.
In today’s blog post, Google also goes over numerous other recent improvements to Android Messenger including built-in GIF search, support for smart replies on more carriers, inline link previews, and easy copy/paste for two-factor authentication messages.
Correction June 18th 3:05PM ET: The article originally said that Wi-Fi must be enabled on your Android device for web messaging to work. That's not the case; Google recommends that if you're experiencing problems with the feature, you should toggle Wi-Fi “off and on again.” But it also works over cellular data.