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Google Messages could let you reclaim your identity on texts
- Google Messages is working on a Profiles feature, which could let users set their own profile name and photo.
- Users will likely have options to control visibility to protect their privacy.
- They will likely be able to also choose to receive notifications about contact updates.
Texting is still prevalent in countries like the USA, giving rise to the infamous “green bubbles vs blue bubbles” iOS vs Android debate. But texting apps primarily rely on your phone number to establish your identity and then push it onto the receiver to set your name and profile photo in their contact books. Google Messages could change this as it prepares to let users set their own name and profile photo.
9to5Google spotted code within the Google Messages app that indicates that Google is working on a Profiles feature. These strings are related to choosing your profile name and picture “so people can recognize you” and around profile sharing.
Earlier in the year, users had spotted a “Profile” preferences page within Android’s system Settings app, which included toggles for “profile sharing” and controlling “visibility.” Like certain instant messaging apps, you can also get notifications when contacts are found, and there are “contact updates.” Note that these preferences don’t work now as the feature is not live.
Profiles could be an RCS feature. It could also be a Google Messages feature, similar to how Apple manages iMessage and Contact Posters that get used within, without being a part of RCS or SMS.
Apple does have a significant leg up in the iMessage experience. iOS users do not have to set contact photos for their contacts; Apple pushes this duty on the recipient contact itself. Every user sets their own contact details, like photos associated with their Apple ID and phone number, and chooses their profile visibility. If either is present in another iOS user’s contact book and the privacy settings are amenable, the contact entry automatically pulls this contact photo. The Profiles option in Google Messages sounds similar in approach.