Google's Messages app might be praised for bringing universal RCS messaging to the entire world, but recently, some folks aren't so happy with it. For the last month or two, some Messages users have had difficulty using the app at all, suffering blank screens, empty threads, and tedious delays when it does work, all paired with annoying "Messages is doing work in the background" notifications.

Specific symptoms for the problem are consistent among those affected, though the timing and presence of the issues aren't. The easiest to observe is a blank screen when opening the Messages app, though it's an intermittent issue that might happen just once or twice over a period from hours to days. At other times, the list of messages may appear, but loading an individual thread may offer a blank screen, or bouncing between threads can trigger the problem. Many of those with the issue report general lag and delays sending or receiving messages when it does work correctly, and an intermittent notification that states "Messages is doing work in the background," which has been known to appear innocuously in other circumstances, but which reports indicate is tied to this problem as well.

Based on these symptoms, this appears to be a separate issue from the recent Carrier Services bug that prevented SMS messages from being sent or received.

Left: The notification affected users get at times. Right: The Messages app showing a blank screen. 

Reports have been increasing going back to around the end of November, and recent Play Store reviews indicate the issue is happening for more and more Messages users. (Though there's a smattering of reports going even further back, the timing of reports indicates a significant change of some kind occurred around November.) Anecdotally, none of us at Android Police has noticed the issue.

Recent negative reviews from the Play Store listing mentioning some of the symptoms. 

Although the bulk of reports at venues like Google's product forums are for customers with Pixels, other devices are also affected. Wiping app cache or storage for Messages reportedly does not fix the problem. A factory reset can solve it for a short while, but reports indicate the issue can crop up again, and the exact cause of the return is unknown.

Many have temporarily solved the issue by rolling back to an older version of the app while avoiding updates. Version 6.0.117 is unaffected, according to reports, though that's a seven-month-old build at this point, and it's not likely to work forever. Switching to a different SMS app also fixes the issue — though that may mean giving up RCS messaging.

We've reached out to Google for more information regarding the issue. In the meantime, those affected can try rolling back to that earlier version of the Messages app, or just switch to a different one entirely.

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  • Darren