Google Messages, the search giant's own feature-rich SMS app, has now reportedly surpassed one billion installs on the Google Play Store.
Now, the one billion figure here is important for a couple of reasons. Most prominently, that's because Google doesn't include the app as part of its Google Mobile Services package.
Setting aside that only Android 5.0 Lollipop and newer devices are supported, only a select, relatively small percentage of smartphones ship with the software pre-installed as the default messaging app. Among those are Android One program handsets and Google's own Pixel devices.
There are plenty of reasons Google Messages is so popular
As a result, the install base represented on the Google Play Store is primarily installations after-the-fact. Meaning that users are downloading and using Google Messages by choice. And there are plenty of good reasons that's the case. Google Messages — previously Android Messages — is easily among the top messaging apps on the market.
The biggest reason that Messages are so popular comes down to its chat-centric features. Only added over the last year or so, that brings RCS support to SMS across multiple carriers and countries. Turned on, the Chat features deliver an experience in terms of group chatting, stickers, and sharing. Location can be shared at the tap of an icon too.
The app additionally supports Google Pay integration for sending money. That's atop message searching and other key features that are more standard in modern messaging
Another big reason is the app's design. Google Messages is designed to integrate naturally with Material Design standards. That means that it conforms well to the rest of the Android operating system and system-level apps. Automatic Dark Mode support for Android 10 and newer smartphones is part of that package, while older handsets have access to a toggle switch to turn things darker.
So Android Messages delivers a more seamless experience than other messaging apps often do. That's helped the app earn its place among the best and its current 4.5-star rating.
Last, but certainly not least, Google Messages is directly integrated with calls via Google Duo. That makes calling from within the app through that extremely popular video-calling app easy. In fact, it only requires a single tap on the phone icon at the top within any individual or group message.
This app is among the best SMS apps there is
Helping drive downloads and installs over the one-billion mark, Google Messages delivers in a few other ways too. One feature that's commonly held by its competitors but also found here is support for Wi-Fi messaging. That means that data for texts, images, videos, and files can be sent over Wi-Fi, where that's available.
The advantage of that comes through in terms of mobile data savings. While most carriers and users are on unlimited plans, that's not always the case. So that savings can be beneficial. Read receipts are also supported on most newer handsets and via most carriers. That allows users to see when recipients have seen their messages.
Of course, Google Messages is a free application to install and use. There aren't any in-app purchases either.