Google is prepping a major upgrade to its RCS messages, adding the ability to directly reply to individual texts.
Direct replies are a common feature of Apple’s iMessage, as well as Signal and WhatsApp. Traditional SMS messaging does not support the feature, and Google’s RCS successor has lacked it as well. Google is working to address this, according to 9to5Google.
The outlet runs a regular “APK Insight” series, where it decompiles Android applications to gain insights into upcoming features. In the latest APK Insight, 9to5Google decompiled Google Messages and found evidence of a direct reply feature in the making.
According to the findings, long pressing on a message displays a reply arrow that can be used to directly reply to a single message. Similarly, swiping a message to the side activates the feature as well. A reply includes a preview quote, much like iMessage, Signal, and other platforms. Some users are already reporting the feature is live for them.
This new feature is the latest in a long series of improvements Google is adding to its RCS implementation that helps bring feature parity with Apple’s iMessage. iMessage is largely considered one of Apple’s biggest advantages in the battle between iOS and Android, with Apple execs reluctant to do anything that would bring iMessage’s advantages to Android, for fear users would opt for a cheaper Android phone if they could still have the “blue bubble” experience.
Google has repeatedly called out Apple for its refusal to support RCS, saying its choices lower the overall security and privacy of all iOS > Android communication since iOS defaults to sending cross-platform texts via SMS. Unlike iMessage or RCS, SMS has virtually no modern security features, such as encryption, nor does it support group administration, file sharing, read receipts, or the like.
Google has made the case that Apple could continue to use iMessage for iOS to iOS communication and only fall back to RCS for cross-platform texts. Only time will tell if Apple will do so, but it’s highly unlikely without regulatory intervention.