Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
Starting out as Android Messages, Google Messages (which is now officially known as Messages confusingly) has become the de facto app for texting on Android. Even Samsung – one of the biggest stalwarts of using first-party apps for things – offers Messages as the default app on some of its phones. However, as comprehensive as the app is, one thing missing is a Windows Google Messages app.
“Now wait a minute”, I hear you say. “I text from my Windows PC all the time using the web app at messages.google.com.” I’m sure you know this, dear reader, but this is not a Windows app and is seriously anemic to what a real Windows app could be.
Honestly, the lack of a genuine app on my PC is driving me crazy, and I’ll tell you why. But first, let me tell you about an app that was exactly what I wanted.
Android Mail Desktop by Chris Knepper
The main problem with Google’s own web app for Messages 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 will need to open your browser every time you want to use it.
Developer Chris Knepper got around this problem by creating a cross-platform app 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 went further by creating a complete notification system integrated into the operating system. It even went so far as to include a system tray icon for the Windows version of Google Messages.
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The problem – as you might have guessed from the name of Knepper’s app – is that the developer hasn’t updated this app since 2019. Since then it has become incompatible with Windows 11 and probably has many other issues on other operating systems.
When it worked, however, it was perfect. You can easily configure it to start minimized to the system tray when Windows starts. Notifications would go through the same way as any other Windows app – no open browser needed. The system tray and taskbar icons featured notification badges that you could view at any time, and you still had all the settings and functionality of the standard web app, including support for responsible for Rich Communication Services (RCS).
Android Messages Desktop has been one of my most essential Windows apps for years. Now that it doesn’t work, however, I can’t find a suitable replacement.
Lots of workarounds, but none are perfect
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
When I realized Knepper’s app was no longer going to work for me, I started looking for something that could duplicate the experience. I discovered that there are a ton of ways to text through Messages on your PC, even without a real Windows Google Messages app. Here are the solutions I found and why they don’t compare to Knepper’s.
- Posts for the web: I have already mentioned the great limitation of this, but I will repeat it here for posterity. For this web application to work, it must be opened in a browser tab. Even if you install the Progressive Web App (PWA), you cannot close the window or you will miss notifications. There is also no system tray icon or notification badge on the taskbar icon.
- Telephone link: Microsoft’s app that lets you use your phone from your PC works pretty well. It’s compatible with a ton of different phones and integrates with Google Messages. However, its biggest problem is huge: it does not 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 Mail 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, giving you a blank white screen.
- Google Messages for desktop: This is another web wrapping program made by an independent developer. It looks like it used to be great, but it hasn’t seen an update since early 2021. When you try to install the latest version today, you get a warning that it’s using an older version of Nativefier and is a serious security risk.
Finally, there’s Android Messages Desktop by OrangeDrangon. This is a direct port of Knepper’s application but is more up to date. It’s near perfect, with no web browser needed, a system tray with a notification badge, and just about every other Knepper app feature. 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 quality of life issues, such as blurry photos. However, for now it’s the best thing out there and what I’m using in the meantime.
A Google Messages Windows app must come from the source
C. Scott Brown/Android Authority
Regardless of how well Knepper’s app works (or even how well OrangeDrangon’s app will work in the future), it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room: this app should be 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 as a PWA. This is probably so that he doesn’t need to develop and maintain the app for all major operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.).
Messages will never be the iMessage for Android users until Google builds a robust PC app.
Since iPhone users can use iMessage through macOS as easily as possible, it makes no sense for Google to ignore this. Microsoft’s Phone Link is a good start, but Google can’t just leave it to Microsoft. This is especially true when Microsoft thinks not supporting RCS is somehow okay.
As it stands, a large number of Android users also have Windows computers. We want a full-featured app that lets us use Google Messages in Windows as easily as iPhone users can 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 that too. Just actually do it.
Are you satisfied with the Messages web application on your computer?