It’s no secret that Google sees RCS (Rich Communication Services) as the future of messaging on mobile devices. Apple’s reluctance to adopt the new standard on iPhones is preventing it from being universal. But on Android smartphones, Google Messages with RCS is slowly catching up to established instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, in terms of features. The company is now bringing another advanced feature from these apps to Google Messages. 9to5Google has discovered that Google’s messaging app is preparing the ability to directly reply to a specific message.
According to the publication, the latest version of Google Messages has a hidden feature that lets you select a message to reply to. You can long press or swipe on a message to bring up a reply arrow. Tapping it puts the selected message above the compose field. You can type your reply and press send. A cross (X) button lets you cancel the direct reply should you change your mind. Your typed message will remain in the compose field, though. So you can still send it as a general reply in the conversation instead of a direct reply to a message.
Messages sent as direct replies will contain a preview of the original message, as well as the sender’s name. You can tap on the preview to scroll up to that message. That’s pretty much the same way it works on other platforms, including WhatsApp and Telegram. Of course, the feature on Googe Messages requires RCS. It doesn’t work for messages sent via the traditional SMS/MMS standard.
Google Messages is readying direct reply
Note that Google is currently testing this feature among a small group of users. It is not yet available publicly. The folks over at 9to5Google could manually enable it by digging into the APK files for the latest version of the Google Messages app. But the report suggests a wider public rollout isn’t too far off. The feature works fine with replies appearing correctly for both the sender and the receiver. Replies even show up correctly on the Messages web client, though the ability to reply to specific messages doesn’t seem to be available on the web version.
All this suggests the feature is just around the corner. As you can see in the screenshots above, voice messages have a “View transcript” button. This is another new feature that Google Messages will be adding soon. Perhaps it’s already functional too, along with support for more emoji reactions and a redesigned gallery view. An upcoming update for the app could bring all these features. You can click the button below to download the latest version of Google Messages from the Google Play Store.