Google Messages SMS logo on a phone screen.

The lack of Google Messages app on Windows drives crazy

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Starting with Android Messages, Google Messages (now officially called Messages, confusingly) has become the de facto app for texting on Android. Even Samsung — one of the biggest powerhouses when it comes to using proprietary apps for things — offers Messages as the default app on some of its phones. However, since the app is quite comprehensive, the only thing missing is the Google Messages Windows app.

“Now, wait a minute dang,” I can hear you saying. “Send a text message from your Windows PC all the time using the web app at messages.google.com.” I’m sure you do, dear reader, but this is not a Windows app and it’s very anemic compared to what a real Windows app could be.

Honestly, not having a good app on my PC drives me crazy, and I’ll explain why. First, let me tell you about an app that used to be exactly what I wanted.

Android Messages desktop by Chris Knepper

Android Messages Desktop screenshot Chris Knepper

The main problem with the Google Messages web app is that you need to open it in a browser tab. If it is not actively open, you will not receive notifications on your computer. You will need to open your browser any time you want to use it.

Developer Chris Knepper worked 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 cover that includes the Messages web app. But Knepper took things a step further by creating a complete notification system integrated with the operating system. It even went so far as to include a system tray icon for the Google Messages Windows version.

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

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

When it worked, it was perfect. You can easily set it up so that it is minimized to the system tray when Windows boots. Notifications will come through the same as any other Windows app – no need for an open browser. The system tray and taskbar icons have notification badges that you can look at at any time, and you still have all the settings and features of the standard web app, including Rich Communication Services (RCS) support.

Android Messages Desktop has been one of the most important Windows apps for me for years. Now that it doesn’t work, I can’t find a suitable replacement.

Lots of solutions, but none of them are perfect

Your Phone Companion by Microsoft screenshot 2021

Indian atmosphere / Android salad

When I realized Knepper wouldn’t work for me anymore, I started looking for something that could replicate the experience. I discovered that there are plenty of ways to send text messages via Messages on your PC, even without the great Google Messages app for Windows. Here are the solutions I found and why not compare to Knepper’s solutions.

  • Web messages: I have already mentioned the significant limitations of this, but I will repeat it again here for future generations. 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 lose notifications. There is also no system tray icon or notification badge on the taskbar icon.
  • Phone link: The Microsoft app that lets you use your phone from your PC works just fine. It is compatible with many different phones and integrates with Google Messages. However, its biggest problem is a huge one: it doesn’t support RCS. Without RCS support, Phone Link is useless to me. Regardless, there is no system tray icon either (at least nothing that launches the app and tells you if you have messages).
  • Android Messages Desktop (Knepper): It no longer works at all with Windows 11 (and possibly other operating systems). When you set up the app, it never connects to Google servers, giving you a blank white screen.
  • Google Messages for desktop: This is another web wrap software designed by an independent developer. It used to look 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 outdated version of Nativefier and poses a serious security risk.

Finally, there’s Android Messages Desktop by OrangeDrangon. This is a direct port of the Knepper app but it is more modern. It’s almost perfect, without the need for a web browser, system tray with a notification badge, and all the other features of the Knepper app. However, it is not certified, which makes it a major 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 images. However, for now, this is the best thing out there and what I’m using in the meantime.

The Google Messages Windows app must come from the source

Opening tour of the Google Store NYC showing the Google logo.

Scott Brown / Android Authority

No matter how well the Knepper app works (or even how well the OrangeDrangon app does in the future), there’s no ignoring the elephant in the room: this app has to come from Google. The company understands that people want to use messages on their computers, which is why the web portal exists. However, Google is lazy and maintains a PWA. This is most likely so it doesn’t need to bother with app development and maintenance for all major operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.).

Messages will never be iMessage for Android users until Google creates a powerful app for PC.

Given that iPhone users can use iMessage via macOS as easily as pie, it doesn’t make sense for Google to ignore it. Microsoft’s Phone Link is a great start, but Google can’t just leave it up to Microsoft. This is especially true when Microsoft thinks that not supporting RCS is somehow a good thing.

As it is now, a large number of Android users also have Windows PCs. We want a full-featured app that allows us to use Google Messages in Windows as easily as iPhone users can do on macOS. Google can’t do all the work trying to make iMessage quality messages while ignoring this basic issue.

What’s even worse is that a developer named Chris Knepper was able to do all of this himself. Obviously, Google can do that, too. It just needs to actually do it.

Are you happy with Messages app on your PC?

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