Google this week launched a desktop version of Android Messages, the default Android app for sending and receiving text messages, allowing users to keep up with SMS conversations through a browser.
The service also works through the browsers built into iOS devices, meaning users can, for instance, use an iPad to send and receive SMS messages via their Android phone.
The browser can be set up using a QR code that appears on messages.android.com and is scanned using Android Messages on the phone.
Once logged in, conversations are synchronised instantly. But only one device or browser window can be logged in at once, and since the phone is doing the actual sending and receiving, it must also be switched on and connected to the internet.
Desktop messaging systems are a familiar feature of the likes of WhatsApp or Skype, but those systems don’t use the phone’s SIM card-based SMS features.
Apple also allows iPhone users to carry on SMS messages from the desktop, but the system requires a Mac.
Apple’s implementation has some differences from Google’s system, allowing users to be logged into multiple windows and devices at the same time and to launch Wi-Fi-based audio or video calls from the desktop.
Google’s desktop version doesn’t integrate calling features, and it also doesn’t provide a way to search for older messages.
But Google’s technique for synchronising messages amongst platforms is reportedly faster than Apple’s Messages in iCloud, which stores messages, conversations and attachments on a cloud-based server.
The desktop version of Android Messages also has some other features Apple’s desktop Messages lacks, such as a Dark Mode and easy ways of adding emojis, stickers and attachments.
Apple’s desktop Messages is set to receive a Dark Mode with the release of macOS Mojave this autumn.
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