Google’s Messages app has passed 1 billion installations on the Play Store. While this is always an impressive milestone, it’s a little more so for Messages since it’s not pre-installed on many devices.
Several Google apps have passed the 1 billion milestone, in part because they come pre-installed on most Android smartphones. Gmail, for example, has over 5 billion installations on the Play Store.
However, Messages only comes pre-installed on Pixel phones, Android One devices and a small number of other smartphones. Meanwhile, popular Android manufacturers like Samsung, OnePlus and LG provide texting apps to handle SMS services.
There definitely aren’t 1 billion Pixels out there — in fact, recent details from the Pixel Buds app suggest there could be around 5 million Pixel 3 and 4 devices. And Android One phones likely don’t make up the difference. In other words, that means quite a few people purposefully installed the Messages app from the Play Store.
That people want the app should not come as a surprise. Messages offers a clean user interface with both light and dark mode. There’s also the handy web interface that lets you text from your computer, or any device with a web browser. Plus, Messages supports Google’s new Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging protocol.
RCS, for the unfamiliar, is designed to replace the ageing SMS and MMS messaging standards. Further, RCS supports features like what you’d find in an internet-based chat system such as iMessage or Facebook Messenger. Features include read receipts, group chats, better support for media messages like pictures or GIFs and more.
Google has left RCS support up to carriers in most regions, but in some places, the search giant has forged ahead with the new service. If you want RCS, in most cases, you’ll need Messages for it to work. That could be one reason why Messages has proved so popular.
If you haven’t tried Messages yet, it’s available for free from the Play Store. While you can install it on most Android phones, access to RCS will still depend on region and, in some places, carrier support.