Now that Google Chat is trying to clean up the mess that Hangouts left, we learned that it would begin by killing off support for Google Fi users to text, call and check voicemail through the Hangouts app itself. Back in May of this year, Android Police did a teardown of the Google Messages app for Android and found that it was preparing to offer Fi support for those missing features so that Fi users wouldn’t be without a home. Today, Android Police also reported that the web component for Google Messages has started rolling out that same integration to a few users.
Nick Cipriani and Anthony Maki found Google Fi synchronization options tucked away in the advanced settings of the Google Messages app. Once toggled on, it triggers the web interface to display not only their Fi SMS messages but also the ability to make phone calls and check voicemails too. It did require them to turn off RCS though. You can see the new interface in the gallery below. A few more notable things include additional notification settings, a dark theme and a new Fi logo on the top left of the web page. It really looks like Google took their time with this and thought it out before implementing it. When you receive the update, you’ll also be able to manipulate your microphone, call ring and call audio settings from the top right of the page.
The biggest feature worthy of mention is that all of this works even when your phone is turned off! This is thanks to everything being synched through Google’s cloud in real-time. My biggest issue with Messages for Web has always been that if I’m signed into a separate phone profile on my Pixel or if I powerwash my Chromebook or even if I don’t open the website to check my messages for a few days, it requires me to re-scan the QR code in order to re-connect it. It’s super frustrating and I’m glad to see the issue going away for Fi users. I think that regular Android users may still experience this though, which is a bummer. We’re unsure of when everyone using Fi will receive this update, but it may just be a matter of time since January marks the official death of Fi integration in Hangouts and when users will be transitioned to Google Messages entirely. I’m just happy to know that if I receive a call, I’ll no longer need to go and open Gmail on the web to answer it!
photo credit: Android Police