Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

A Samsung phone comes with two apps that can send text messages: Samsung Messages and Google Messages. It’s strange to see two very similarly named apps that do essentially the same thing. Does it matter which one you use? Here’s what you need to know to make the decision for yourself.

​Google Messages Has Replaced Samsung Messages

For many years, Samsung Messages was Samsung’s go-to texting app. Now, even though Samsung Messages is still around, the company’s phones default to Google Messages instead. Why?

In the US, virtually all Android phones now come with Google Messages by default. Google has encouraged OEMs to adopt the app, and the three major carriers began preloading Google Messages on all Android phones in 2021 as a way to implement RCS support.

There are also ways in which Google Messages is simply the better app, and now Samsung does not have to compete. Even if you attempt to use the preinstalled Samsung Messages app in the US, the app may still nudge you to use Google Messages instead.

Samsung Messages recommending the user of Google Messages instead.

Of course, you’re free to ignore this recommendation and continue to use Samsung Messages, but is there a good reason to?

​Reasons You May Still Prefer Samsung Messages

Samsung Messages has had a long run. It’s mature software, and, for millions of people, it’s familiar. It’s also still a pretty solid app.

One thing Samsung Messages has going for it is its simplicity. If you’ve ever used a texting app on a smartphone before, then you know how it works. SMS and MMS have been around longer than many of us have been alive.

There’s also something appealing about an app that doesn’t suggest you create an account and make your chats available online. Samsung Messages just does what it’s supposed to do. Nothing more.

Consistency With Other Samsung Apps

Samsung’s One UI has its own vibe. It’s not nearly as distinct from what you see on a Pixel as Samsung’s TouchWiz used to be, but there remains a noticeable stylistic difference.

If you want your core phone apps to look and feel the same, then that’s also a good reason to stick with Samsung’s messaging app. It has the same look as the Phone app and the Contacts app. It also looks comparable to the Settings app, as well as other Samsung apps like Samsung Notes and Samsung Music.

Sort and Customize Your Chats

There are some niceties that Samsung’s app provides that Google’s does not. For example, you can manually create categories and sort your conversations into groups (Google Messages used to have categories, but now, instead of disabling this option manually, Google has turned it off for good).

You can also adjust the background color of your conversations to give them a personalized spark.

No Google Bloat

Google Messages looks and feels like a Google product. There’s Google branding at the top, and hitting the menu button pulls up your Google accounts. This is similar to other Google apps like Google Photos, Gmail, and Google Calendar. Each one blurs the line between what’s on your phone and what’s online.

This probably won’t stand out if you are already immersed in Google’s ecosystem, but one of the advantages of Galaxy phones is that Samsung makes great phone apps that aren’t trying to be more than that.

Advantages of Google Messages Over Samsung Messages

For most people, Google Messages is the preferable app—it’s built using more modern technology. Despite coming from Google, it offers a greater degree of privacy. It also offers more features. Let’s break them down.

Google Messages Supports RCS on Any Android Phone

RCS, or the Rich Communication Service, is the successor to SMS. RCS supports functionality that you may have come to expect from online services, such as seeing whether someone is typing or that they’ve viewed your messages.

Google Messages offers RCS support across any carrier. It is the most widely used version of RCS for Android and has become the platform’s most viable competitor to Apple’s iMessage.

Samsung Messages previously supported RCS, but it was dependent on your carrier. After embracing Google Messages as its new default, Samsung removed RCS functionality from Samsung Messages on newer phones.

Keep Chats Private With End-to-End Encryption

One of the most important advantages of RCS is support for end-to-end encryption. This means RCS chats within Google Messages are private. Ideally, even Google shouldn’t be able to read them.

This encryption is enabled by default. You know your message is private when you see a lock underneath a message or by checking your conversation settings.

Non-RCS messages continue to lack encryption. So, if you’re using Google Messages to send SMS or MMS, that message is as unencrypted and as private as ever. That’s because of the inherent infrastructure of the technology, not the app. SMS messages are insecure, and that isn’t Google’s fault.

Modern Ways to React to Messages

SMS can deliver a short message with a limit of 140 characters. MMS expands the number of characters and allows you to attach an image or other media file. This is pretty basic compared to chatting on WhatsApp or Signal. It was already dated in the days of Yahoo Instant Messenger and Trillian. RCS and Google Messages bring texting into the present.

In Google Messages, you can like a message with a thumbs-up emoji or a heart. You can react with any emoji, really, or try a GIF or sticker instead. Voice messages are embedded directly into the conversation. This all makes Google Messages feel at home alongside the other apps you use for keeping up with people.

Auto-Delete OTPs and Spam Protection

Need to sign in to a website? It’s probably going to send you a text to verify your identity. Over the course of a single day, these one-time passwords can push your current conversations off the screen. Google Messages is able to identify and automatically delete OTPs after a day or so.

Google’s chat app also offers some protection against spam. Taken together, these features help your texting experience stay focused on the people you actually message. Frankly, these are only a fraction of the features you can find in Google Messages.

If you’re willing to give up the advantages of RCS, then Samsung Messages is arguably the better app for sending SMS. But that’s a big “if.”

Once you grow accustomed to receiving read receipts and leaving reactions to people’s messages, it’s hard to give them up. These additions aren’t gimmicks. Often, a thumbs up is all that needs to be “said” and avoids sparking the anxiety that comes from sending someone “okay” instead of “ok” (really, though, it’s “kk”).

Plus end-to-end encryption is increasingly important when so much of our personal lives are now conducted through our devices. You don’t have to be a fan of Google to, like Samsung itself, nudge people toward Google Messages instead.

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By John P.

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