This week, Google announced that it was bringing its Android Messages app to the web. I finally gained access, and I’m curious now why this didn’t happen years ago.
Set up is simple enough: Open the Android Messages app on your phone, open the More options (“…”) menu, and choose the “Messages for web” item. If you don’t see this item, wait a few days: Google is rolling it out to users over a period of about a week. (How it is doing so is unclear: My Messages app was never updated, according to the Play Store, but this item wasn’t there yesterday and it’s there now.)
In the screen that appears, you’ll be prompted to scan a QR code that you’ll find on this web page, which you will need to first load on the PC or Chromebook you wish to use to send and receive SMS/MMS messages.
Once you’ve done that, Messages for Web will load in a browser tab. If you’re using Chrome, which you should be, I recommend saving this as a desktop shortcut (In Chrome, “Customize and control Google Chrome > Create shortcut; be sure to select the “Open as window” option too). That way, you can use it like any other app in Windows/Chrome OS and pin it to your taskbar for easy access.
It mostly works as you’d expect. You can send text messages directly from the web app as you would on your phone. And these messages can include “stickers, emoji, and attached images,” according to Google.
I tried each. Because I hate Brad.
Naturally, you can receive text messages too, and hold conversations normally on the web as you would on your phone. There are even native-looking pop-up notifications when text messages arrive.
Messages for Web seems to support the most useful features from the mobile app. This includes Smart Replies, which appear as little bubbles with suggestions based on what you received. And you can mute conversations from the web, which might be particularly helpful when you’re working.
Performance seems good, with near-instantaneous deliver/send on both mobile and web. This is one of the things that really impressed me about Air Text, which is a third-party text messaging integration application for Windows, too. But Messages for Web has the advantage of being from Google—I generally prefer this kind of thing to come from the platform maker—plus it looks and works exactly like the mobile app. Familiarity wins.
This one looks like a winner. And in a rare move, I have something new to pin to the taskbar on every PC I use.