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Google Messages Reaches 1 Billion RCS Users, Adds Fun Features to Celebrate

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Messages Reaches 1 Billion
Google's default messaging app, Messages, has hit a major milestone - over 1 billion monthly active users now have RCS (Rich Communication Services) enabled. 

To celebrate the achievement, Google is launching a suite of creative new features in Messages to add more visual flair and customization options for users. 

This update lets you customize the bubble color and background (including the app bar) on a per-conversation basis. The latter adopts a lighter shade than your bubble, while the other person remains white (or gray). Google also pitches Custom Bubbles, which are synchronized between you and the recipient, as helping “avoid accidentally texting your family group chat a weekend update meant for your friend.”

1. Photomoji and Reaction Effects Inject Whimsy

Two new visual features called Photomoji and Reaction Effects aim to make conversations in Messages more fun and dynamic.

Photomoji allows users to turn photos into emoji-like reactions that are sent in message threads. The Messages app uses on-device AI to detect the main subject of the photo and display it alongside other text reactions.

Meanwhile, Reaction Effects apply animated embellishments to standard emoji like hearts, thumbs up, and more to better visually convey the sender's emotions. A heart emoji may be transformed into a dazzling pink flashing heart, for example.

2. Customize Bubble Colors and Backgrounds

Users can now customize bubble colors and background themes on a per-conversation basis in Messages. This adds a splash of personal flair while helping distinguish different message threads at a glance.

Google also says customized bubble colors, which are synchronized between both parties in a chat, can help avoid mistakenly sending messages meant for one group chat into another.

3. Enhanced Voice Messages and Dazzling Screen Effects

Voice messages are getting improved too with the addition of AI-powered noise cancellation for better clarity. Visual effects can also now accompany voice notes to better reflect the emotion of the sender with effects like fireballs for anger or sprinkling hearts for excitement.

On top of that, typing certain phrases will trigger eye-catching full screen special effects. For example, typing "I love you" may generate a cascade of hearts across the display.

4. Official Profiles Connect to Users' Phone Numbers

Finally, Google is fully launching Profiles in Messages to associate names and photos with users' phone numbers. This better personalizes conversations and ensures consistency across Google's various communication services.

The latest features for Messages start rolling out today in the beta channel, bringing more whimsy and personalization to the messaging app as it reaches the major 1 billion RCS user milestone.

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