Google Messages is one of the most popular apps from Google, and many users make use of it every day without even realizing that they use it. The name is rather generic, and a lot of devices ship with it pre-installed as their default SMS and RCS client.
Most users should be satisfied with the functions that the app provides and have no real reason to explore alternatives. But if one of the possibly-upcoming changes materializes, they may need to look for alternatives, as new strings within the app suggest that Google Messages will stop working on uncertified Android phones in April 2021.
A new strings was spotted in Google Messages 7.2.203:
<string name="ip_compliance_warning_message">On March 31, Messages will stop working on uncertified devices, including this one.</string>
As the message clearly spells it out, Messages will stop working on uncertified Android devices from March 31, 2021 onwards.
Uncertified Android devices are those devices that run on Android, but skipped through or failed Google’s official certification process for Google Mobile Services. These devices do not come with the mandatory Google apps, but the sellers of such devices usually have advisories on how users can sideload Google apps and service frameworks. Google did put an end to such practices from device makers, but Google Messages as an app remained immune from the fallout of those decisions.
For one, Google Messages could easily be sideloaded if you did not have it pre-installed, and it didn’t need a Google sign-in to work on its own, so it would still work on all Android devices (including the new ones from Huawei).
But this is soon going to change. If you have an uncertified Android device, the app will not work. This is presumed to be an extension of the RCS End-to-End encryption rollout, as Google will not be able to guarantee if an uncertified device is not compromised, and the consequent conversation from users of these devices is not compromised in any way. Considering how small of a user base this would in the grand world of active Android devices with GMS, this would be a small plug to pull for Google.