Google has been experimenting with various different approaches for attachments, emoji, gifs, and stickers in its SMS app in recent months. The latest incarnation is now being spotted in the beta version of Messages, replacing the blocky UI with more colorful and simplistic circular buttons.
As noted by 9to5Google, the new UI is made up of several round buttons with text underneath them, including gifs and stickers, even though it's possible they will also be accessible via the emoji picker too. Other attachment options like files, location, and contacts are all present, as are the Google Assistant integrations of Weather, Restaurants, and Movies. There's also a new spot for Schedule Send, which was previously only accessible by long-pressing the send button.
Left: The old UI. Right: The new simplified buttons. (Image credit: 9to5Google)
The redesign offers far greater visual clarity, and the colored icons should help you hit the right option much faster than before. These changes are apparently rolling out to version 9.3 beta of Google Messages, but it's possible that only a limited number of users will see them. Since the new UI is clearly better, we should expect this to roll out more widely in the near future.
Even bigger updates are on the way for the Messages app as part of Google's Material You design overhaul — watch out for dynamic color theming and some visual tweaks to go along with Android 12's bold new look.