Lack of Google Messages Windows app is driving me crazy


Google Messages SMS logo on a phone screen.

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Starting out as Android Messages, Google Messages (now officially known as Messages, confusingly) has become the de facto app for texting on Android. Even Samsung — one of the biggest proponents when it comes to using its own apps for things — offers Messages as the default app on some of its phones. As all-encompassing as the app is, one thing that’s missing is a Google Messages Windows app.

“Well, wait a minute,” I hear you say. “I always text from my Windows PC using the web app at messages.google.com.” I’m sure you do, dear reader, but that’s not a Windows app and is seriously anemic compared to what a real Windows app could be.

Frankly, the lack of a bona fide app on my PC drives me crazy, and I’ll explain why. But first, let me tell you about an app that was exactly what I wanted.

Android Messaging Desktop by Chris Knepper

Android Messaging Desktop Chris Knepper screenshot

The biggest problem with Google’s own Messages web app is that you have to open it in a browser tab. If it is not actively open, you will not receive notifications on your PC. You have to open your browser when you want to use it.

Developer Chris Knepper got around this problem by building a cross-platform application for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s called Android Messages Desktop. Essentially, the app creates a web wrapper that embeds the Messages web app. But Knepper took it a step further by creating a full notification system integrated with the operating system. He even went so far as to include a system tray icon for the Windows version of Google Messages.

See also: The best Windows tablets you can buy right now

The problem – as you may have guessed from the name of the Knepper app – is that the developer has not updated this app since 2019. Since then, it has become incompatible with Windows 11 and likely has many other issues on other operating systems.

But when it worked, it was perfect. You could easily set it to start minimized in the system tray when Windows boots up. Notifications come in the same way as any other Windows app – no open browser is needed. The system tray and taskbar icons had notification badges that you could look at at any time, and you still had all the settings and features of the standard web app, including support for rich communication services (RCS).

Android Messages Desktop was one of my most essential Windows apps for years. However, now that it doesn’t work, I can’t find a suitable replacement.

Many solutions, but none are perfect

Your Phone Companion by Microsoft screenshot 2021

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

When I realized that Knepper’s app wouldn’t work for me anymore, I started looking for something that could duplicate the experience. I found that there are countless ways to text via Messages on your PC, even without a bona fide Google Messages Windows app. Here are the solutions I found and why they don’t compare to Knepper’s.

Messaging for the web: I already mentioned the major limitation of this, but I’ll repeat it here for posterity. For this web app to work, it must be open in a browser tab. Even if you install the progressive web app (PWA), you cannot close the window or miss notifications. There is also no system tray icon or notification badge on the taskbar icon. Phone Link: Microsoft’s app that lets you use your phone from your PC works pretty well. It is compatible with a lot of different phones and integrates with Google Messages. However, the main problem is a huge problem: it doesn’t support RCS. Without RCS support, Phone Link is useless to me. Anyway, there’s also no system tray icon (at least none that launches the app and tells you if you have any messages). Android Messages Desktop (Knepper): No longer works with Windows 11 (and possibly other operating systems) at all. When you set up the app, it never connects to Google’s servers, leaving you with a blank white screen. Google Messages for Desktop: This is yet another web wrapper program designed by an indie developer. It looks like it was once great, but it hasn’t seen an update since early 2021. If you try to install the latest version today, you will get a warning that it uses an old version of Nativefier and poses a serious security risk.

Finally, there is Android Messages Desktop from OrangeDrangon. This is a direct port of the Knepper app, but is more up to date. It’s almost perfect, with no web browser, a system tray with a notification badge, and pretty much all the other features of the Knepper app. However, it is not certified, which makes it a significant security risk. Windows will warn you about this when you try to install it. It also has some quality of life issues such as blurry photos. For now though, this is the best out there and what I’m using in the meantime.

A Google Messages Windows app must come from the source

Google Store NYC Opening Tour with Google Logo.

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

No matter how well Knepper’s app worked (or even how well OrangeDrangon’s app might work in the future), you can’t ignore the elephant in the room: this app should come from Google. The company understands that people want to use Messages on their PC, which is why the web portal exists. However, Google is lazy and keeps it a PWA. This is probably so that you don’t have to worry about developing and maintaining the app for all major operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.).

Messages will never be the iMessage for Android users until Google makes a robust PC application.

Since iPhone users can use iMessage via macOS just as easily as Pie, it makes no sense for Google to ignore it. Microsoft’s Phone Link is a good start, but Google can’t just leave it to Microsoft. This is especially true when Microsoft doesn’t think it’s right to support RCS.

As it stands, a large number of Android users also have Windows computers. We want a full-featured application that allows us to use Google Messages on Windows as easily as iPhone users on macOS. Google can’t do all the work to make Messages as good as iMessage while ignoring this fundamental problem.

What’s worse is that a developer named Chris Knepper was able to do it all on his own. Obviously, Google can do it too. It just has to really do it.

Are you happy with the Messages web app on your computer?

18 votes

Yes, it does the job for me.

39%

More or less. It’s fine, but I prefer a native experience.

17%

No, I really want a native app.

17%

I don’t use Messages on my computer.

28%

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This post Lack of Google Messages Windows app is driving me crazy

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