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Google Messages update could bring back a blast from the past

Google Messages logo on phone screen.
(Image credit: sdx15 | Shutterstock)

It appears Google Messages, the primary text messaging app for the best Android phones, is about to receive a significant visual and usability update.

According to 9to5Google, Google is prepping a navigation drawer for the Messages app. The move comes as Google starts adding iMessage reactions to the app and follows a significant redesign it rolled out for Messages back in October 2021.

The potential move is surprising since Google has been working for years to get rid of the navigation drawers from its apps, trying to wean users away from hamburger menus and side navigation panels. The prime example of this shift is the Play Store, which first added a tabbed bar at the bottom, and then dropped its side menu for a popup that’s accessible by tapping the profile icon.

That said, apps such as Gmail have bucked the trend, and it seems Messages is headed in that direction as well. In fact, the new Messages navigation drawer reportedly appears to function much like Gmail’s side menu, with options to switch between all messages, starred messages, archived messages and spam and blocked messages. These are followed by links for pairing a new device, switching the theme and marking all messages as read.

The overflow menu to the right of the search field will also be replaced with your profile picture and account picker, followed by some app-specific settings.

9to5Google also found evidence of a new media upload feature that will supposedly help upload and share images and video via Google Photos. The feature will help users pick the multimedia content, which will be placed in the compose field, along with the size of the uploaded multimedia file. Unlike MMS though, the text message will ferry a link to enable recipients to view the multimedia content in Google Photos.

Notably, Google hasn’t commented on these features, and it isn’t clear when — or if — they’ll be rolled out.