Google adds new photo features to Messages as the app hits 1 billion installs

Android Messages with a dark theme
Android Messages with a dark theme (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is testing a new "attach recent photos" button in chat.
  • However, it only pops up briefly after taking a photo.
  • The new button does serve to highlight the speedy and efficient media sharing of Google's RCS-powred chat service.

Ever so often we get a reminder that Messages isn't just an SMS app, it's Google's new instant messaging effort. Powered by RCS, Google hopes for this app could rival the likes of WhatsApp and iMessage, and it's adding nifty little features to underscore that. First discovered by the folks over at Android Police, the Messages app in beta will now pop up an "attach recent picture button."

Simply put, it's a one-tap shortcut for sending the last photo captured. It doesn't show up if you're using MMS, but it does if you're using RCS i.e chat. The reasoning is clear. Sending multi-media messages via Google's chat is free and can work even over WiFi, while it's probably going to cost an arm and a leg in MMS fees.

It's a small feature, but it's the kind of small feature that sets Google products apart (when they properly implement them.) To its credit, Google Messages recently crossed the 1 billion download mark, a feat for an app that isn't even installed by default on the vast majority of Android phones sold. Google is also continuing its RCS rollout, hitting Singapore and Italy last week.

In the meantime, if you'd like to try out the quick photo feature, it seems to be live only in Beta versions of the app. There's server-side trickery needed to get access, simply a sign up from the Play Store will do.

Google Messages App Icon

Google Messages

Google's messaging app for Android finally hits its stride with over 1 billion installs. Small features like this will only grow more useful as more people engage with and use Chat.

Michael Allison