It seems like Google’s Messages app could get some new features in the near future, at least according to a teardown of Messages v4.1 app. This version of the app does bring some changes, including an option to enable Suggested Actions and a new About screen, but nothing earth-shattering.
This app’s code does reveal that some worthwhile features are on the way, though. Code on the inside indicates that Google Assistant and verified SMS support may be dropping soon. Google did say that Google Assistant is coming to Messages last month, but not we can actually see some code-related changes, even though Assistant did not arrive per se.
Assistant Preference, Assistant Suggestions, Assistant Enabled… and various other strings were found in the code, suggesting that Google is slowly integrating Assistant in the Messages application.
There’s not much to talk about when it comes to the Google Assistant, but some of you are probably interested in the Verified SMS feature. Well, the name of this feature is kind of self-explanatory, it is aimed to reduce or completely eliminate number spoofing, which scammers often use to impersonate phone numbers.
Several strings were added in the (Google) Messages’ code with this last update indicating that the feature may become live soon. Android Police suggests that this could be linked to a pair of finalized FCC standards called STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted Information using toKENs), which were recently finalized. The timing is the key here.
STIR / SHAKEN are using public key cryptography in order to perform verification with the originating carrier, it’s verifying the source of calls and texts. The public key cryptography is not exactly used by many anti-robocall methods, and it does seems to be an advanced way of making sure you’re not getting spoof calls or anything of the sort. It is worth noting that both T-Mobile and Verizon already announced supports for STIR / SHAKEN.
Unlike (Google) Messages v4.1, the v4.0 version actually brought quite a few changes last month. It enabled you to rename groups chats, change colors for unpictured contacts, and more. That version of the app also hinted that a reminder to turn off airplane mode may be coming, same goes for sending generic files, as strings for both were recovered. As it’s usually the case with strings and app teardowns, just because a string for a new feature is found, does not necessarily means that we’ll get that new change / feature soon, or at all, so keep that in mind.