Android Messages app sheds light on Google's plan to take on iMessage

Apple's iMessage is the glue that keeps many users on iOS, and now it appears Google is readying a legitimate competitor.

Google is no stranger to releasing messaging apps, each with one with the promise of fixing issues with similar services, and the hope of taking on Apple's iMessage platform.

Google Allo, Hangouts, Voice, and Android Messages are just a few of the messaging apps and services. Each one does something a bit different from the others, but ultimately they perform the same tasks.

A recent update to Android Messages, Google's SMS app for Android users, sheds some exciting light on what Google may be planning to provide a robust messaging platform and compete with Apple's iMessage service.

According to Android Police, there's currently unused code within the Android Messages app that indicates Google is preparing to release a web-based messaging tool, messaging over Wi-Fi, activity indicators (typing, delivered, read, etc.), and mobile payments.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Should we hear back, we will update this post.

From the currently dormant code, it appears users will scan a QR code after visiting a website in a web browser to link his or her phone. Once linked, messages and photos can be sent and received through the browser. Code to support more than one browser session is also present. Google Allo and Facebook's WhatsApp both have a similar feature.

Prompts asking a user to enable "chat features" that include messaging over Wi-Fi and high-quality photo sharing, all of which is powered by Google are also present in the code.

Finally, there's code that indicates Google is working on allowing Android Messages users to make payments, most likely to businesses, for services. The payments section of the code is the most lacking in details, but with terms like "Order Summary" "Payments Summary" and "Buy with Google" it's not hard to imagine Google adding some sort of payment feature to Android Messages. Recently, Apple added Apple Pay Cash to iMessage for users to send and receive money in the messaging app.

Apple's iMessage platform allows iOS and macOS users to send and receive messages to one another, instead of using standard SMS and MMS services. The feature is often cited by iPhone users as one of the main reasons for sticking with Apple products due to the number of friends and family members also on iMessage.

If Google can - finally - put the pieces of the messaging puzzle the company has created for itself in the right spot, it's surely going to attract some iOS users on the edge of making the jump, especially if Google doesn't lock users into just one platform.