Google’s SMS & MMS app, Google Messenger, has had a nice update this week that brings a lot of visual tweaks as well as some new features. The new build is version 2.0 and it is rolling out now in the Google Play Store. The most immediate thing you will notice is the new round icon for the app, fitting in nicely with the look of the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel devices. That new icon also can now show unread message counts, ala iOS, which is something that Android frankly has needed for a long time. But get this: It doesn’t work on the new Pixel Launcher or the Google Now Launcher.
Insert head scratching here.
Why this doesn’t work on Google’s own launchers is up for debate. It could be that they simply do not support icon badges which is required for this to work. I can somewhat understand Google Now Launcher not given it is for the now ancient Nexus devices
(That’s sarcasm folks… spare me the emails) but the new Pixel Launcher? Surely it supports them. If however you are using a 3rd party launcher like Nova for example, it does support it and you will see the unread badge on the icon. Apex Launcher also supports it but Action Launcher doesn’t just yet.
There are other changes in this update to Google Messenger however that are worth noting. The contacts list in the update now shows you the top contacts you message at the top which is a big time saver. Also, group MMS messaging is improved as it is much easier to select those contacts you want to send the message to in the app. Both of these features are designed to save you time and they work regardless of which launcher you have installed. These updates are purely UI changes that all users will benefit from having onboard.
Finally, there is another small tweak that is on the Send button when you are actually sending a message. If the message is a SMS text you will see “SMS” under the send button while a media message will have “MMS” under it. You can see that in the screenshot to the right.
Overall, this is a nice update to Google Messenger and well worth the update if you are using it as your SMS/MMS app. It is free like the other Google apps. If you have it installed already, the OTA update should be coming to you over the course of the next few days.