Google Messages Expands Custom RCS Conversation Color Themes

What you should know


  • Google announced new features for its Messages app to celebrate reaching a one billion monthly active RCS users milestone, including animated emoji, Photomoji, screen effects, and custom themes.
  • Custom themes allow users to change the bubble and background colors of individual conversations, aiming to enhance conversation differentiation and overcome the limitations of blue versus green bubbles.
  • The rollout of custom themes has been slow, but it is now receiving a wider rollout, with some users seeing the option in the latest beta version of the Google Messages app or through a server-side push.
  • Custom themes work differently on Pixel devices, which use Material You dynamic theming, affecting both the background and bubble color, whereas on Samsung Galaxy devices, only the bubble color changes.


Full Story

Oh, remember back in November? Google was all hyped up, celebrating a massive milestone for its Messages app. They hit one billion monthly active RCS users. Quite the party, huh? They promised us a bunch of new features. Think animated emoji, Photomoji, and those fancy screen effects. Most of those goodies? They’ve already made their way to users.

But, there’s this one feature, right? Custom themes. It’s been a slowpoke in rolling out widely. Google pitched it as this cool customization tool. You could jazz up your chat by changing the bubble and background colors of individual conversations. The idea was pretty simple. It was supposed to shatter the blue vs. green bubble drama and help us tell our chats apart.

“Video format not supported”? Weird error to see in the middle of this, but okay. Moving on. Android Police let slip that this feature’s finally getting some legs, spreading out to more users. Some folks caught a glimpse of it in the latest beta version of the Google Messages app (that’s v20240308 for the nerds curious about specifics). Me? I stumbled upon it without even updating my app. Still rocking the beta version 20240228 over here. Looks like Google’s doing some behind-the-scenes magic with a server-side push.

Wanna see if you’ve got the magic touch too? Make sure you’re in an RCS chat first. This trick won’t work with old-school SMS/MMS. Dive into any chat, hit the three-dot menu, and tap “Change colors.” Bam! You’re in the theme-changing UI, staring at a rainbow of color options, default included.

Now, if you’re playing with this on a Google Pixel, you’re in for a treat. The theming options get a bit more snazzy thanks to Material You dynamic theming. It changes both the chat background and bubble colors. Samsung Galaxy users, though, you’ll only see a change in the bubble color. A bit of a bummer, but still cool.

Oh, and when you do switch up your theme? You’ll get this cute little notification at the bottom. It’s like, “You changed the theme,” and offers a quick link to tweak it again. Because, why not? Happy theming, folks! Let’s make those chats as colorful as our personalities, shall we?

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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