How to use Android Messages on the desktop - gHacks Tech News

How to use Android Messages on the desktop

Google revealed five new features for Android's default messaging app Messages yesterday. The first advertised feature unlocks options to read and send texts from desktop computer systems.

The new feature works similarly to how other messaging platforms including Google's now more-dead-than-alive Allo messaging app handled desktop integration.

The process itself is simple but requires a server-side unlocking by Google in the Messages application on the Android device. It will take weeks before all users get the functionality therefore, but that is typical for how Google handles new application releases.

Here is how it works

android messages

  1. Visit the new Android Messages website on the desktop. The service should work in all modern web browsers and not just Chrome. Google does note that the website does not work in Internet Explorer.
  2. The site displays a large QR code and instructions.
  3. Check the "remember this computer" option if you want to use the functionality in future sessions without having to repeat the authorization process.
  4. Open the Messages application on the Android device.
  5. Select the menu at the top and then "Messages for web". If you don't see "Messages for web" yet, you have to wait until Google unlocks it for you server-side.
  6. Scan the code displayed on the desktop website using the scanner.

The process links the Messages application with the website.

The site displays all conversations in a sidebar and the selected conversation in the main pane. You can read all messages and reply to any. The web version supports stickers, emoji, and image attachments, but search functionality and other nice to have features seem to be missing in this initial version.

It does support notifications (alerts), comes with a dark theme and high contrast theme, and supports several keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.

The following keyboard shortcuts are supported right now (replace Ctrl with Command on Mac):

  • Start new conversation -- Ctrl-Alt-C
  • Switch to next conversation -- Ctrl-.
  • Switch to previous conversation -- Ctrl-,
  • Delete conversation -- Ctrl-Alt-R
  • Archive conversation -- Ctrl-Alt-H
  • Open Settings -- Ctrl-Alt-X
  • Attach files -- Ctrl-Alt-A
  • Toggle Emoji Picker -- Ctrl-Alt-E
  • Toggle Sticker Picker -- Ctrl-Alt-S
  • Toggle People and Options -- Ctrl-Alt-O

More information on the XDA Developers website.

Why you may not want to use the feature

It can certainly be useful to read text messages and reply to contacts from the desktop as you can make use of the keyboard to type messages faster and add image attachments faster.

The main issue with the implementation is that it does not support end-to-end encryption. May not be an issue for users who use Messages primarily for chit-chat but anyone who uses it for something serious may want to consider using communication applications like Telegram or Signal that support end-to-end encryption and are not owned by organizations that make money from knowing as much as possible about people.

Now You: Which messaging application do you use?

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How to use Android Messages on the desktop
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How to use Android Messages on the desktop
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Google revealed five new features for Android's default messaging app Messages yesterday including an option to access Messages on the desktop.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Anonymous said on June 19, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Reply

    Please note that Telegram is not secure!
    https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/49782/is-telegram-secure
    Signal, in the other hand, is robust, even when it comes to metadata.

    1. Name said on July 19, 2018 at 9:56 am
      Reply

      Nah, it’s fine. Plus with usernames, no one can see your number if you don’t want them to, unlike Signal and WhatsApp. Is it NSA proof? No. But is it weaker than texting? No. There are a bunch of links of posts critiquing telegram, but they are outdated (e.g. 2FA has been added a while ago, and the fingerprint padding is stronger) or do not follow up with Telegram when asked. Telegram tried to have a discussion with Moxie, but he wasn’t helpful. He deleted the comments and now the site doesn’t work.

      The Telegram apps are open source as well, and do client-side crytpo.

  2. Lindsay said on June 19, 2018 at 10:22 am
    Reply

    Android Messages just updated on my phone and I don’t see the option. Which version of the app is required?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 19, 2018 at 11:02 am
      Reply

      Lindsay, this is a server-side change, you need to wait until Google enables it for you.

      1. jc said on June 19, 2018 at 6:49 pm
        Reply

        I also updated to latest version of android messages app. i don’t have the option “mesage for web” when i click on the more option on the app. Is it not available to everyone yet?

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 19, 2018 at 6:52 pm
        Reply

        As I said, this is a server side change. Google flips a switch and it becomes available. The feature requires the latest client version and the switching by Google.

    2. Cigologic said on June 22, 2018 at 2:52 am
      Reply

      > Lindsay: “Android Messages just updated on my phone and I don’t see the option.”

      Google releases its programs (eg. Google Chrome) & app updates (eg. Android) via staged (ie. progressive) roll outs over an extended period of time. Exactly when you get the update depends on which group you were randomly selected to belong to for any particular update cycle.

      Imagine yourself as a participant in a huge marathon involving millions of runners, such that different groups of runners are selected to approach the starting line at a different hour.

      For the case of Google program/app updates, the flag-off time for the different user-groups across the world stretches over a period of days & weeks. Your program/app client might be the latest version, but as long as Google hasn’t “called out your name”, your program/app client won’t be allowed to approach the starting line to obtain the update for a new function that is being rolled out.

      * Google Engineer Explains How Android Updates Roll Out & Why You Shouldn’t Force Them:
      https://www.androidauthority.com/how-android-updates-roll-out-force-clear-gcf-318744

      QUOTE: “Updates roll out in batches, starting with 1% of all devices in the first 24-48 hours. The team checks for problems, and if everything goes to plan, proceeds to update the next batch, typically consisting of 25% of devices. So the percentage of updated devices goes from 1%, to 25%, to 50%, to 75%, to 100% over a period of 1-2 weeks.

      And here’s the thing – the devices that go into each batch are randomly selected once for each batch. In other words, if you are turned down for the first batch, you have to wait for the next one, and no amount of tapping the Check now button will help. The bottom line is there’s no point checking for updates more than a couple of times per day.”

  3. Sebas said on June 19, 2018 at 10:26 am
    Reply

    WhatsApp web. Good enough. Just using it for everyday talk, with the occasionally Putin gif to keep Facebook happy.

  4. Lindsay said on June 19, 2018 at 11:13 am
    Reply

    How I wish the edit feature still existed! I need to read more carefully, I noticed it just after I hit “Post”… Cheers.

    1. Lindsay said on June 20, 2018 at 10:01 am
      Reply

      And this was meant to be a reply to Martin above. Noscript issues…

  5. Yuliya said on June 19, 2018 at 11:57 am
    Reply

    I’ve seen many Android applications being able to interact with the phone through a website which you don’t even log in. It’s a bit freaky, and I don’t understand how it really works (yet, it’s on my to-learn list). Being able to toggle features on or off and what not. I think things like this should also be a permission in Android.

    I have a Xiaomi Mi A1 and this is the messaging application it comes with. Incidentally today it got updated. I don’t have that feature yet, although I don’t think I want to use it either. I don’t mind picking up my phone to reply to a message (and I do prefer SMS over any other text communication means) even when i’m in front of my PC.

  6. Jonathan said on June 19, 2018 at 4:04 pm
    Reply

    I use Textra on the cell phone and I also use Pushbullet to mirror to my desktop and the nice thingg about Pushbullet is that you can send and reply to SMS messages via the desktop, but with the free version you are limited to a certain number of replies per month.

  7. Anonymous said on June 19, 2018 at 4:44 pm
    Reply

    You should not pop the notification request immediately! Even Google engineers failed at making proper website lol

  8. Q said on June 19, 2018 at 7:55 pm
    Reply

    The article on this page is misrepresenting the default Android app:
    “Google revealed five new features for Android’s default messaging app Messages yesterday.”

    Android’s default messaging app is actually named “Messaging” and has package name “com.android.mms”. “Android Messages” with package name “com.google.android.apps.messaging” is a different messaging app.

  9. Jolt2bolt said on June 21, 2018 at 4:04 pm
    Reply

    You can do that with kde connect a while ago. At least if you use a gnu/linux distro with kde desktop or the kde connect pachake installed and running up

  10. Dave said on June 23, 2018 at 2:31 am
    Reply

    My Posh L520 running Android 6 (and the built in chinese spyware it came with) just rebooted itself and tossed a full screen notification at me on how to enable this feature. I went to the adress it said in Edge and scanned to code, that’s it.

    I pinned the site to my task bar and when ever I open it, I see a duplicate of the messenger app from my phone that uses about 1/5th of my PC screen.

  11. Trice said on August 7, 2018 at 2:27 pm
    Reply

    I thought I’d post this question here because I can’t find an answer anywhere else. But while I really like Android Messages for Web in concept, Firefox 61.0.1 keeps logging me out of the web page every time I close the browser, and each time I have to scan the QR code to regain access.

    I’ve done the basics: settings in both the web page and Android SMS app are set to remember the computer, I’ve opened Firefox with all extensions disabled, I’ve checked cookies and other settings to allow it. I’ve experienced this behavior since Android Messages for Web was rolled out, and continued to experience it even after a complete Firefox reinstall with a fresh profile last week.

    Most telling, I do not have this issue with Chrome.

    I thought I’d try posting here

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