Google I/O is in full swing, and that means app updates are going to be rolling out in force. I'm sitting here in the press box before the keynote, but that won't stop the teardowns from happening. An update to the Android Messages app landed yesterday, bringing with it newly added capabilities to show link previews. Coming in from the teardown, we've got signs of a new dark mode and some helpful controls for the upcoming Messages for Web feature.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • Link previews

Link previews

One of the most useful features of many modern chat apps is automatic link previews. Paste in a url and hit send, and you'll see the latest version fills in a preview of the linked page. If the person on the other end of the conversation is also running Android Messages, they'll see the message, but it will also contain a prompt to load the preview. Tapping it will automatically open the preview.

If you're not a fan of previews, there's an option in the Settings screen that can be flipped to turn turn them off, or limiting them to appearing only while connected to Wi-Fi.

As a quick note, link previews may not appear immediately after installing the update, but force closing the app and restarting it should do the trick.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Dark Mode

There appears to be a dark mode in the works. The label and key for a dark mode setting has been added, but currently hidden from view. There's no descriptive text or styles, but it's pretty safe to assume this is going to be the same experience we've seen in the YouTube app.

Quote
<string name="dark_mode_pref_title">Enable dark mode</string>
<string name="dark_mode_pref_key">dark_mode_pref_key</string>

<bool name="dark_mode_pref_default">false</bool>

excerpt from /xml/preferences_application.xml
<com.google.android.apps.messaging.ui.appsettings.MultiLineSwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/dark_mode_pref_title" android:key="@string/dark_mode_pref_key" android:defaultValue="@bool/dark_mode_pref_default"/>

Messages for Web: Notifications

While we're still waiting on Messages for Web to launch (perhaps in the next couple of hours?), there are new lines detailing a pair of settings. The first is an option to turn on or off a persistent notification whenever you've got a Messages for Web client connected. If you're planning to leave a client connected for longer terms, you'll probably want this disabled. Otherwise, you may want it on as a reliable reminder to disconnect. This notification should appear under a new notification channel that will be named Messages for Web.

The second option can be used to silence notifications when new messages come in. Naturally, you'll want to turn that on most of the time so you can quiet an endless stream of dings.

Quote
<string name="ditto_settings_connected_to_web_notification_title">Show persistent notification</string>
<string name="ditto_settings_connected_to_web_notification_description">"Connected to Messages for web" appears whenever your device connects to the web</string>

<string name="ditto_settings_while_using_web_notification_title">Silence notifications</string>
<string name="ditto_settings_while_using_web_notification_description">Stop ringtone &amp; vibration whenever your device connects to the web</string>

<string name="bugle_notification_category_web">Messages for web</string>

Conversations notification channel

As a final note, it looks like there might be a new notification channel for Conversations. Not much else to say there...

<string name="bugle_notification_category_conversations">Conversations</string>

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Android Messages
Android Messages
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free