Google Messages prepares voice transcripts and full emoji reactions

Upcoming features for Google Messages will let you read transcripts of voice memos, react to messages with any emoji you’d like, and more.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Voice message transcripts

In Google Messages today, regardless of whether you’re chatting via RCS or SMS/MMS, you can record a voice memo to be sent to the other person, thanks to the included microphone button.

However, there can be times when a recording like that isn’t a great way to get your message across. For instance, the audio is often compressed, which can sometimes make your words harder to hear, or your recipient may simply not be in a place where they can listen to the message.

To be more helpful in those situations, Google Messages is preparing the option to transcribe incoming voice memos. In one iteration of the feature, new messages are automatically transcribed as they’re received, while another style we’ve seen involves manually tapping a “Transcribe” button. For now, the feature doesn’t seem to be rolling out, but our team managed to manually enable it.

In our limited testing, Google Messages seems to get the transcripts mostly correct, even automatically placing punctuation, seemingly based on the speaker’s pauses and tone of voice. The transcription isn’t nearly as fast as Google Assistant voice typing on Pixel 6 though, with a noticeable delay when pressing “Transcribe” on a 13-second recording.

Transcripts can help when voice message audio isn’t clear or listening isn’t an option. Voice messages are transcribed only on your device and the transcript contents are not sent to Google. Manage anytime in settings.

Full emoji reactions

Back in 2020, Google Messages rolled out the ability to react to messages, starting with a set of seven reaction emoji that loosely matches what Apple offers in iMessage. Since then, reactions in Google Message have remained relatively unchanged, with the biggest addition being the app’s ability to “translate” iMessage reactions to make texting your iPhone-owning friends less annoying.

Google is now looking to make reactions a lot more dynamic for those chatting via RCS. Using the latest beta version of Google Messages, we found a work-in-progress feature that allows you to react with year emoji. In the new design, the thumbs-down emoji is replaced with an icon that conveys “add emoji.”

Tapping this button pulls up the full list of emoji available on your Android phone, any of which can be used as a reaction to a message. Better yet, these custom emoji reactions even already work on the receiving end without enabling the feature, as our team was able to send various emoji reactions to one another.

Finally, Google Messages may also be getting a redesign for its photo gallery view. Currently, the app offers you a horizontally scrolling grid of your recent images and screenshots to potentially attach to your message, along with the option to take a photo on the fly.

In the new design enabled by our team, you can now scroll vertically through your photos, even using more of the screen as you scroll, for a less cramped experience. The old “Gallery” button has been replaced with an option for “Folders” that offers essentially the same experience. Broadly speaking, Google Messages’ photo gallery redesign — particularly its floating action buttons in the corner — fits in quite nicely with Material You.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

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