Like so many other Android users, I rely on Messages for Android — Google’s text messaging application — every day. It’s my main means of communication with the people I care about most.
So I was pretty excited to hear that Messages for Android now has its own web client, accessible from any web browser. It’s called Messages for web, naturally:
In short, Messages for web lets Android users text message seamlessly from any computer with a web browser. It’s super easy to set up, and even syncs in real time between phone and computer.
I’ve been using it for nearly a week at this point, and it’s fundamentally changed how I communicate.
First, setting it up: It’s a snap!
Here’s how you set up Android text messaging on the web:
Step 1: Open Messages on your (Android) phone. Step 2: Tap the three dots in the upper right corner, and select “Messages for web.” Step 3: Navigate to the Messages for website on your favorite web browser. Step 4: Scan the QR code using your phone.
And you’re in.
If you want the computer you’re using to remember your phone, there’s an option to select that from the web browser window.
If you’re not seeing the Messages for web option in Messages just yet, check back in a few days — Google is rolling out the update over time.
I’ve stopped knee-jerk responding to every text message buzz in my pocket.
I’ve begun ignoring the buzzes in my pocket, and it’s been a massive relief.
As someone who spends most of my time at a computer, I feel especially silly holding up a smartphone screen in front of that computer.
Eventually, I click over to the Messages for web tab in my browser and see what I’ve been missing: group texts with friends to get back to, messages from my partner, an alert from Verizon that my autopay went through successfully.
Important stuff, no doubt, but stuff that doesn’t require an immediate, “Stop everything!” response. Instead, I ignore the buzzes, find a natural end point to whatever I’m doing, then catch up on messages I’ve been missing.
It’s a subtle change with massive implications — I’ve been knee-jerk responding to text message pocket vibrations for over 10 years now.
But there’s something about having all my text messages in a browser window, waiting for me, that changed how I look at them: They’re just instant message windows now, nothing more than the AOL Instant Messengers and Facebook Messengers of the world.
It’s obvious, I realize. They’re all just messaging software in the broadest sense. But text messages have maintained the top spot in my personal hierarchy of prioritization. Messages for web is helping me put the space between myself and text messages that I didn’t even realize I needed.
Not having to switch between phone and computer while working is a huge time saver.
Switching between a phone and a keyboard is massively disruptive. Moreover, as stated previously, it makes me feel ridiculous to pick up a smartphone solely for one type of messaging while I’m sitting at a powerful computer.
Having Messages for web makes text message communication a part of my workflow.
I’m free to ignore the buzzes in my pocket specifically because I know the messages they represent are easily tackled in a browser tab. Why bother looking?
Messages for web seamlessly syncs between phone and computer, instantly.
If someone sends you media, you can download it locally to your computer (and vice versa — it’s super easy to send your friends all the dumb GIFs you found before they woke up).
Messages for web works exactly as well as Google’s many other excellent services, like Google Docs, Calendar, Mail, and Keep. It is genuinely impressive how quick and easy it is to use Messages for web.
And yes, you can text message anyone with Messages for web, just like you would with your phone normally. It actually uses your phone to send the messages — there’s no way to use Messages for web without your phone close by.
Of all the hotly anticipated new smartphones still set to be released over the course of 2018, Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the furthest from becoming a reality. The LG G7 ThinQ and HTC U12+ are both in the process of rolling out now, and Motorola has some launches coming soon as well. Then the next big phone reveal will be Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, which will be followed by the even more eagerly anticipated release of Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup. There, we’ll likely see three new iPhone X successors launch, including an “iPhone X 2,” a larger “iPhone X Plus” with a 6.5-inch OLED display, and a new mid-range model with the iPhone X’s design but a much lower price point. That third new iPhone model, which will reportedly feature a 6.1-inch LCD screen, will likely be Apple’s most popular new iPhone in 2018 thanks to the new, lower price tag.
Finally, after all that is said and done, Google is expected to release its new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL sometime in October 2018. They won’t be the best-selling Android smartphones of the year — not by a long shot. But Google’s new Pixel phones are always the choice of hardcore Android fans who want a pure Android experience and instant access to big Android software updates the moment they’re released.
2018 is shaping up to be a somewhat controversial year for Google’s Pixel lineup since the larger and more desirable Pixel 3 XL is expected to copy the iPhone X’s notch design, and hardcore Android fans inherently hate anything and everything Apple does. Luckily for Android fanboys, however, Google likely has a solution in store to appease them, and we might have just gotten our first look at that solution in action thanks to a recent leak.
Earlier this week, the world may have gotten its first taste at the designs Google plans to use on its upcoming Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagship smartphones. That taste came courtesy of a photo that purportedly showed two screen protectors, one for the upcoming Pixel 3 and a second for the larger Pixel 3 XL phablet. Now, seeing screen protectors obviously isn’t the same as seeing the phones themselves, but if they’re genuine they do show us the design Google plans to use on its new Pixel phones. Here’s that leaked image, in case you missed it the first time around:
As you can see, the screen protectors indicate that Google plans to decrease the size of the bezels on its new Pixel 3 lineup this year. Both new models will still have a “chin” bezel below the displays, and the smaller Pixel 3 will also apparently have a somewhat large bezel above the screen. But the bigger Pixel 3 XL design shown in this leak uses Apple’s iPhone X notch design at the top of the screen in order to maximize display real estate.
Again, there’s no way at the moment to confirm that this design is accurate. That said, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. So many Android phones have copied Apple’s notch that Google actually baked notch support right into Android P, the company’s big 2018 update set to be released later this year. Pixel phones are always a showcase of the latest and greatest Android features, so it stands to reason that Google would want to showcase the notch on at least one of its 2018 Pixel phones.
Based on the leak above, a cell phone blog cooked up renders of what Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL should look like when they launch. There’s a very good chance that those renders will end up being our first look at Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL designs, though we obviously cannot confirm that for the time being. We showed you the renders on Tuesday, but here’s another look:
The smaller Pixel 3 has a design that is somewhat dated thanks to those big bezels above and below the screen, but the Pixel 3 XL looks just as sleek as any other recent Android flagship phone. It does clone the iPhone X’s notch though, which is something that hardcore Android fans haven’t been happy about with regard to all the other recent phones that copy Apple’s design. Of course, many of those phones also offer a related feature that Apple does not: The ability to hide the notch.
Phones like the LG G7 ThinQ and OnePlus 6 include a setting in the phone’s software to hide the notch by making the background black. Then, only status bar icons and notification icons are displayed on either side of the notch. There’s a very good chance that Google will offer this option as well, and now a Reddit user named “fondantsnail” has created a Pixel 3 XL render that shows us what the phone might look like with the notch hidden:
The render on the left shows us Google’s rumored Pixel 3 XL design with the notch enabled in the phone’s software. Then on the right, we can see what the phone might look like with the notch hidden in the software. Will this be enough to appease Android fans who inherently hate anything that even resembles an Apple product? Only time will tell, but our guess is they’ll happily look past the iPhone X’s notch at the top of the Pixel 3 XL’s screen in order to get their hands on the latest and greatest Google phone.
A report from a solid source that just hit the wire on Friday morning suggests that Samsung may finally have a launch schedule in place for its mysterious new Galaxy X. The company first confirmed that it was working on a smartphone with a foldable display back in 2017. At the time, a Samsung executive said that the company was targeting 2018 for the phone’s release, but numerous reports have since stated that the phone’s debut has been pushed back to 2019. Honestly, that’s a very good thing, and it’s uncharacteristic for Samsung. The company has been known to rush out new products long before they’re ready for primetime, so it’s refreshing to see Samsung take a step back and make sure it gets things right before releasing the Galaxy X. According to this new report, the phone will have a 3.5-inch screen on the outside and the approximate equivalent of two 3.5-inch displays on the inside. When it folds open, its total screen area will be in the high 6-inch range. It’s a nifty idea and the Galaxy X could be truly impressive if Samsung manages to use a folding OLED panel so there’s no seam where the hinge is placed. But to be frank, it’s really not all that appealing to me. The device is bound to be awkwardly thick, and I’m not sure gaining a diagonal inch is worth dealing with the large size, the inevitable hit to battery life, or the weird aspect ratio.As it turns out, Samsung is in the early stages of working on a radical new smartphone design that would be completely unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Did you catch that part that began at the 57 second mark? Panasonic demoed a television with a display that is completely transparent when it’s turned off. It’s absolutely incredible, and I need 10 of them right now. If you go back a bit to the 37 second mark, you can see another awesome design that puts a transparent display on the front of a wine cooler, but this time Panasonic only lights up part of the screen at a time. This way, the panel can display information but you can still see the wine inside the cooler.
By now you probably see where we’re going with this. What would happen if Samsung took these technologies and shrunk them down so they could fit in your pocket? Well, you would end up with one of the most exciting and novel new smartphone designs the world has ever seen.
The regulatory filing hawks over at Patently Mobile just dug up a pair of patents that were awarded to Samsung this week by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As illustrated in the technical drawing above, the patents cover a smartphone with a transparent design. That would be… awesome.
As you might have surmised after watching the video above, a Samsung phone with a transparent display could light up the entire screen and be used just like a regular smartphone. But portions of the display could show graphics while other portions remain transparent, resulting in an augmented reality experience the likes of which the world has never seen on a smartphone.
Samsung first showed off fully functional transparent displays all the way back in 2015, so the company has been working on this technology for quite a while now. Of course, that doesn’t mean a smartphone with a transparent display will launch anytime soon. In fact, even with these new patents brought to light, Samsung may never launch a phone with a transparent display. Companies constantly work on new technologies that never see the light of day — bet let’s hope that’s not the case here because this device could be the most exciting smartphone the world has ever seen.
Here’s Everything New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel/XL and Pixel 2/XL
Google dropped a bombshell on us today—the first Android P Developer Preview. Widely expected to release this month, the first Android 9.0 builds are now available for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL. Unfortunately, support has been dropped for the Google Pixel C, Google Nexus 5X, and Google Nexus 6P. Android P Developer Preview 1 brings a plethora of changes to the mix, and in this article we’ll be diving in to list most of what we’ve found on the surface level.
What’s New in Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 series
Here’s a summary of all of the changes below in bullet point format. We recommend you take a cursory glance at this, but scroll down to see screenshots/videos and a description of each new change.
User Interface changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
New UI for settings/quick settings
New notification style for messages
New transition/notification expansion animations
Updated Pixel Launcher with voice search icon and more prominent dock
Battery saver no longer shows orange warning
Always on display shows battery info and centers notifications
New Easter Egg.
About phone screen now shows additional info in a popup window.
Quality of Life changes in Android P Developer Preview 1
Built-in screenshot editor.
Screenshot button in power menu
Text selection zoom (like iOS)
Battery saver can now be scheduled.
Do Not Disturb has been simplified down to a single mode
Volume buttons now control media volume by default
Adaptive Brightness is now much more useful as it actually changes the base brightness level
Hotspot can be turned off automatically if no devices are connected
Rotation can be locked to landscape mode
Multi-Bluetooth HFP/A2DP support
Individual Wi-Fi networks can now be set to metered/unmetered
Private DNS (DNS-over-TLS)
Vibration controls in Accessibility Settings
Accessibility option to disable all animations
SysTrace tool is now built-in
Recently posted notifications are now shown in notification settings
Material Design 2?
Although it doesn’t have a name yet (we strongly believe it will be called Material Design 2), Android’s user interface has received a fresh coat of paint. The most notable areas where Android P has made changes are to the quick settings tiles (now vertically paginated rather than horizontally) and to the settings pages, but there are also more minor changes to the status bar that we should take note of.
As you can see in the screenshots above, the icons in settings all have distinct colors now. In comparison, the settings icons in Android Oreo were a dull, muted gray color. The quick settings toggles, meanwhile, are all now rounded and are blue when enabled. Unfortunately, we’ve lost the ability to expand quick settings tiles within the notification shade.
If you look at the status bar, it looks like the clock has been shifted to the left. This may be in preparation for more devices with a display notch (…maybe the Google Pixel 3?), but I like the idea as it makes the status bar icons/text seem more evenly distributed.
(Oh, and if you’ll notice, Night Light now tells you when it will turn on in its quick settings tile).
New Notification Style for Messages
This one may be a bit controversial. As you can see in the screenshots above, notifications have a new style. Full conversations can now be shown as can stickers and images. Smart replies are also there, similar to what the Reply app offers.
When you long-press on a notification, the buttons now show “stop notifications” or “keep showing.” A quick way to decide if you want notifications from an app without diving into settings.
New Transition Animations
This one is big, and almost immediately noticeable. There are new animations for transitioning between activities, and new animations for opening an activity from the notifications. We’ve captured them on video so you can see what they look like.
Media and USB Dialog Changes
A few more areas have gotten redesigned. The Bluetooth media output list can now show up as a popup when you press on the arrow key in the volume panel, and speaking of which, the volume panel now shows up on the side of the screen rather than up top! The USB settings page has also gotten a quick redesign.
A very subtle change in the Pixel Launcher (which has already been ported to other devices) is that the search bar now has a microphone icon so you can start a voice search. The background is now also more prominent, so it’s clearer where the dock begins and the rest of the launcher ends.
Battery Saver No Longer Shows Orange Warning Bar
Yes! One of the biggest visual annoyances is now gone. Previously if you enabled Battery Saver mode, it would enable an ugly orange overlay on top of the navigation and status bar. This is no longer the case in Android P.
Google Pixel 2 Always on Display Now Shows Battery Info, Adds Divider Between Time/Notifications
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the first Google phones to have an always on display feature. In Android Oreo, the feature only shows you the current time, date, whether an alarm is set, and icons from current notifications. It also supported the phone’s “Now Playing” feature which added the title of the currently playing background song. At the very, very bottom, now Android P also adds information about the device’s charging state/battery life. Furthermore, there’s a new divider in between the time and notification information. Finally, the notifications themselves are centered.
Android P Easter Egg and New About Phone Behavior
Well, there’s a new Easter Egg. It’s definitely not the final thing, as the official name for P has not yet been confirmed. Something more interesting is the new behavior for the About Phone page. Information is now shown in a popup window when you tap on certain elements.
Quality of Life Improvements
This is something that Android has sorely needed for quite some time. Before, if you wanted to edit a screenshot on a Google phone, you would have to install a third-party screenshot editing app. Now, taking a screenshot shows a new “Edit” button which opens up a basic screenshot editor. (It should be noted that most device makers have had such a feature for awhile now).
Screenshot in Power Menu
No longer will you have to fumble around with key combinations to take a screenshot. It’s right there in the power menu!
Text Selection Zoom
When you use the text selector to move back and forth through text, it will now zoom in to better show the text you are scrolling through. Here’s a quick video:
Scheduled Battery Saver
By default, Android Oreo only allows you to schedule battery saver mode at 5 and 15% of remaining battery. Android P expands on that by giving you a slider to choose a precise battery level you want battery saver to activate on!
Do Not Disturb Simplification
The Do Not Disturb quick settings toggle now shows the duration activity, which is nice for you to quickly modify its state. They’ve gotten rid of the 3 modes, total silence, alarms only, and priority only, and instead there’s only a single mode that you can customize in settings.
Media Volume By Default
Rejoice! When you press the volume keys, media volume is now the default volume stream that is controlled! No more need to remap keys or use any funky workarounds! As for call volume, it is now separate, and only active when you’re in a call.
Adaptive Brightness Now Actually Changes the Base Brightness
Google’s Adaptive Brightness now appears to change the brightness percentage now, making it behave more like the previous Automatic Brightness feature. This means you won’t have to manually change the brightness when you go outside to even see the display!
Turn Off Hotspot Automatically if No Devices are Connected
This will be a welcome addition to the hotspot feature. You can now have hotspot automatically turn itself off if there are no devices currently connected. This will ensure you don’t drain your device’s battery when hotspot isn’t actively being used.
This change is very, very subtle and easy to miss. I missed it initially, but one of our readers tipped us that if you disable “Auto-rotate” and try to flip the screen, a new navigation bar button will be shown which changes the orientation to landscape and locks it there. Previously, rotation lock would only lock the device to portrait mode. Here’s a quick video:
A new developer option has been added which allows your device to connect to up to 5 Bluetooth Hands-Free or A2DP devices. This does not allow you to stream to multiple devices at the same time, but it will make switching between active Bluetooth connections much more seamless as you won’t have to wait for the disconnection/connection process each time.
Set Wi-Fi Network as Metered/Unmetered
If you are connected to a Wi-Fi network that is metered (AKA there’s a data limit), then you have to be careful with how much you download or upload. Android can automatically detect when a network is metered, but in those rare cases where it doesn’t, you can now manually specify a network as metered.
Private DNS (DNS-Over-TLS)
If you have a DNS that supports TLS, meaning the service won’t record the domains that you visit, then there’s a new setting you can change to enable a private DNS provider hostname.
Within Accessibility Settings there’s a new vibration control setting. This allows you to set whether or not you want vibrations on or off for ring & notifications, or for touch. You can also choose a low, medium, or high duration vibration.
Quickly Disable Animations
Also within Accessibility Settings is a setting that turns off all animations. We’re not sure how useful this will be since most of us know how to do so from Developer Options, but hey it’s there if you want a quick universal toggle.
This one should interest only developers, but Google now offers a way to easily capture SysTrace from the device. No need to hook up your phone anymore. This will allow you to collect traces that you can then analyze later. This comes in the form of a new quick setting tile.
Last Shown Notifications
Android has always kept a record of notifications (in the notification log), but it has been hidden from users for years. In the notification settings, Android P will at least show a history of a handful of notifications, but it won’t show you the content. Instead, the aim is to have a brief record so you can remove access from a nasty notification that you accidentally dismissed.
Feature Flags to Test In-Development Settings
This might disappear in a subsequent release, but in developer settings you can toggle a few flags much like Google Chrome’s feature flags. Currently it’s not very useful, but this may include more in-development settings in the future.
The new release of Android P Developer Preview 1 for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL is massive. We’re doing our best to find everything we can, but it’s possible we might miss something. Please, if you install the update and notice something new that we haven’t already found, send us a tip and you could get a free month of XDA Ad-Free if we write an article based on your tip!