Update 1 (10/29/2020 @ 04:26 AM ET): Category separation appears to be rolling out to some users. Scroll to the bottom for more information. The article as published on September 29, 2020, is preserved below.
Google is testing a long-awaited feature in its popular Messages app. The feature, which our tipster Hani Mohamed Bioud first discovered, adds categories at the top of the app, allowing users to better organize their messages.
An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.
From what we can tell, the categories that are being tested in the Google Messages app include: All, Personal, Transactions, OTP, Offers, and More. There are other apps like Microsoft’s SMS Organizer that can do this already, but it’s nice to see this feature integrated into Google’s Messages app.
While we were able to manually surface the categories at the top, we weren’t able to get it working completely. Conversations weren’t moved to any of the categories automatically, and we are unable to manually move a conversation into one of the tabs. When the feature is functional, we expect Messages to automatically categorize conversations, much like Gmail does for email.
The hope is to seemingly provide users with a more organized experience, thus making it easier to carry on conversations. Having a filter for one-time passwords (OTP) is particularly nice, because those can clutter up a messaging app quick. Speaking of which, we recently spotted evidence in the Messages app that Google will allow users to automatically delete OTPs after 24 hours.
From what we can tell, it doesn’t look like the categories are available to users just yet, either via an update or a server-side flag, and it’s unclear when it’ll be available to test out by a wider audience. But since we were able to surface its UI, it’s possible the rollout is just around the corner. Once it goes live to everyone, we’ll be sure to let you know, along with any changes we find.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.
Update: Initial rollout of categories within Google Messages
It appears that Google Messages has begun rolling out category based sorting for SMS, as some users have had the options surfaced for them without any inputs from the user.
Twitter user @_AbdNz spotted the category tags surfaced on the top of the Messages app on his (stock, unrooted) OnePlus Nord.
The categories aren’t actually working yet. Clicking on any of the tags on the main screen does nothing, and even changing the category of the message does nothing yet. We presume Google will be gradually rolling out the feature to users.