Over a week ago, Google’s mobile messaging app, Android Messages, received an update that finally allowed users to send and receive text messages from the comfort of their desktop computers.
However, that update was not immediately available to everyone in the world, least of all, those of us in Kenya. As such, I decided to hold out on sharing the news until such a time when Google would turn on Android Messages web for us.
You will get instructions on how to go about the remainder of the process which is easy… open the Messages app installed on your phone, tap the three dots at the top to reveal more menu options then select Messages for web (refer to this article’s featured image above). Click ‘Scan QR code’ in the resulting page, scan the quick response code displayed on your desktop computer’s web browser and… That’s it!
What you need to know
Android Messages’ web synchronization is just like the way WhatsApp web works. So, if you have used WhatsApp web then this is more or less the same thing. The web interface just mirrors the mobile app and a constant data connection is needed both on the computer and the smartphone for sending and receiving of SMSs to be possible.
It is worth noting that a SIM is necessary for text messages to be received, sent and delivered since this is not a purely online service. The online connection is for just creating an exact mirror of the messages on the smartphone (or tablet), a bridge, if you may say so. This is a stark contrast to WhatsApp which is an online messaging service that only needs to be mirrored for web access out of security concerns and not because that’s how it works. We’re talking old school texting here. SMS. For those who’ve been using apps like Pushbullet and Join then then this is something like that.
The Messages web interface has a dark theme. Just go to settings and explore.
In that settings section, you will also realize that to make it easy to text from a desktop machine, keyboard shortcuts are supported.
That settings section is also what data-conscious users will want to familiarize with so that they toggle on the ability to be notified when they are outside Wi-Fi zones and using their precious mobile data bundles to access their SMSs from a computer.
You will need to toggle on “Remember this computer” when you’re pairing the Messages app on your smartphone with the web interface or later after you’ve synced through the settings app so that you don’t have to repeat the above process every other time. Additionally, you can just sign out/stop any active web sessions from the Messages app on your phone by going to the options menu (the three dots at the top) and clicking on Messages for web.
I like that you can archive conversations as well as mute them.
Why it’s important
Normally, the Messages app is not something you will bother about unless you happen to be using an Android Go or an Android One smartphone. Or a smartphone running stock Android. That’s because that is the application that comes pre-installed for all SMS needs. However, as many (including myself who’s had to reconcile with my earlier misgivings about Android Messages by taking a large serving of humble pie) have been finding out, actually, everyone needs to use Messages some time because of the features that Google is increasingly adding on to the app.
After folding up the ill-fated Allo, an app I had no nice words for when I reviewed it over a year and a half ago, Google’s attention and resources have been focused on making Messages the best app it can be and that can be seen in the features the app has received via updates in May and June.
These features include the ability to copy two-factor authentication codes (like the ones you receive when activating or logging in to bank apps, the Safaricom app, WhatsApp, Twitter, Gmail etc) with a single tap either from the notification drop-down or directly from the Messages app and paste them in the right place.