Every time we see an update to Android Messages we get a little excited, hoping it will finally be the one that brings cross-device syncing to our phones, tablets, and computers. Sadly, the latest version doesn’t add that feature, but it does bring a couple tweaks that should make it easier to use.
Most notably, the screen used to start a new conversation has been changed to eliminate some of the confusion. Previously, when you selected a contact to send a message to, it simply added the name to the “To” line, as if it assumed you were adding more people. Then, you had to tap the tiny arrow to start typing. Now, picking a name will bring you straight to the conversation screen.
So, naturally, group messaging is tweaked as well. There’s a new “Start group conversation” button right at the top of your contacts lists which will let you populate the field as before, or you can start a one-on-one conversation and tap the icon to the far right of the name to add recipients. There’s also a new “Add people” button in the People & options menu screen.
There doesn’t seem to be any additional changes in this version. If you want to get an early copy, you can side load the Google-signed APK from APKMirror.
Why this matters: In case you haven’t heard, Android Messages is going to be the default messaging client on many Android phones that ships this year, so anything Google can do to make it streamlined and simpler will help with adoption. The previous method for starting a new solo message was a little confusing, so this change is definitely for the better. And it also shows that Google is paying attention to details on Android Messages, so hopefully that means big things for the app in Android O.