Outside of the United States, Samsung recently made Google Messages the default messaging service on the Galaxy S21 series, replacing their own app. The Messages app has been redesigned to look more like Samsung’s One UI on Galaxy S21 series phones, which seems to be the next move in this transition.
The apparent benefit of adding Google Messages to Samsung Galaxy phones is that it automatically pushes RCS Chat functionality to a larger number of Android users. The downside is that Google Messages looks and behaves like a Google Material Theme app rather than a Samsung One UI app, so it won’t feel quite as “native” as a Samsung One UI app.
To address this, Google has been developing a new Messages programme that seems to be heavily influenced by Samsung’s One UI. Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer said in an interview that the redesign is intended to make Google Messages sound like it fits in One UI.
This week, according to XDA Developers and Redditors, the Galaxy S21 redesign is becoming more commonly available to Galaxy S21 owners outside of the United States. The most noticeable change is to the homepage, which now features One UI’s signature banner, placing all of your communications at your fingertips. The header merely reads “Messages” and displays the number of unread exchanges.
Other changes are less noticeable, such as the dark mode accent colour being a bold white rather than the grey used on other phones. The conversations list is also on a card, in keeping with One UI and Google’s theming.
This is by far the most blatant case of Google sacrificing their own design language in place of another Android OEM’s design in a game. Except for certain Pixel-specific tweaks, Google apps mounted on an Android phone will typically appear almost similar across devices. Google has made a concerted attempt to make Google Messages appear like a One UI programme.
However, adding exclusive functionality to the Samsung edition of an app isn’t uncommon; Google Duo on Galaxy mobile, for example, has AR Emoji. Samsung hasn’t said if Google Messages will become the default app on Galaxy phones in the United States.