A string of code detected in a teardown of the most recent update to Google’s Messages app suggests that the company may restrict access to Messages to ‘certified’ Android devices by the end of March 2021.
While it may seem scary, it is important to note that the change, should it become a reality, probably won’t affect most people. Before we get much deeper into it, it’s also important to recognize where the information is coming from: the teardown of an app. For those unfamiliar with the practice, removing apps involves taking new ‘APK’ files from the app and decompiling them to look at the code and see what’s new.
In this case, XDA Developers performed the unmount and found a string of code that would display the following warning message: “On March 31, Messages will stop working on non-certified devices, including this one.”
The warning is pretty clear, but it doesn’t seem to be active yet either. Android Police suggests that Google has yet to add a certification requirement to Messages, although this makes it seem like the company intends to do so soon.
Certification refers to Android devices that are shipped without Google Mobile Services (GMS), a collection of apps and software that includes things like Gmail, the Google app, Chrome, and the Play Store. To get GMS and therefore access to often essential pieces of the Android experience, manufacturers must go through a certification process and ship devices with GMS pre-installed.
Both of them XDA and Android Police They point to companies like Huawei as examples of manufacturers with non-certified devices. In Huawei’s case, only the newer phones that shipped after the US ban lack GMS and certification.
Messages is one of the few Google apps that works with non-certified devices, which is probably because it doesn’t require you to log into a Google account. It also relies on the SMS and RCS protocols for messaging. XDA says the change is likely due to the upcoming Messages encryption feature. According to the post, Google could not guarantee that a non-certified device will not be compromised in any way. In other words, the certification requirement is likely to be positioned as a way to protect users.
Unfortunately for Messages users with non-certified devices, that probably means that it will soon be on the market for a new chat app.