Google just updated text messaging for Android, and it completely changed the way I text

 

Google just updated text messaging for Android, and it completely changed the way I text

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:

Messages for Web (Messages for Android)Google

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.

Here’s why:

First, setting it up: It’s a snap!


Ben Gilbert / Business Insider / Google

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.

Not having to switch between phone and computer while working is a huge time saver.
Since I write about technology at a major publication in 2018, I use a MacBook Air with my phone sitting next to it. I don’t wear a name tag.
 Jacques Brinon/AP Images

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.

Ben Gilbert / Business Insider / Google

The way that Messages for Android works is identical to the way Messages for web works. You can send images, and emoji, and links, and GIFs, and there are even a handful of silly secret commands.

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.

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