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Android Messages 3.5 preps custom ‘Minis’ avatar stickers, revamped search [APK Insight]

After we first enabled it in June, Android Messages 3.5 is rolling out this morning with the Google Material Theme in tow. Meanwhile, a teardown of the latest version reveals work on customized stickers — a given for any Google product that is vaguely social — and revamped search that is still under development.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Material Theme

The Material Theme we first spotted and enabled in version 3.3 from June is now rolling out. Version 3.5 is required, but the design appears to be a server-side update. Close the app in Recents and launch Android Messages again if the redesign does not appear after installing the latest version. For more, be sure to read our full look at all the changes.

Dark mode

In the overflow menu, there is a new “Enable dark mode” option. The app adopts a dark gray background, with speech bubbles, avatar icons, and other elements following suit to compensate for the new stark white theme.

Revamped search w/ filters

When we enabled the Material Theme in June, we also activated a big redesign to search that added filters for Links, Locations, Photos, and Videos, as well as quick access to recent contacts. The feature is not yet live and still under development in version 3.5.

<string name=”zero_state_search_action_copy”>Copy</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_action_jump_to_chat”>Jump to chat</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_action_maps”>Maps</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_action_share”>Share</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_back_button_content_description”>Go back</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_links_header”>Links</string>

<string name=”zero_state_search_location_copied”>Location copied</string>

Widgets removed

This update removes two widgets that have been available in Android Messages for several versions now. The first allowed users to pin a specific message to their homescreen, while the second displayed their entire messaging inbox with the ability scroll through and open specific conversations directly in the app. In version 3.5, the widget picker for the app is no longer accessible.

Version 3.4


Like with Google Allo and more recently Gboard, Android Messages is adding customized stickers that are based on you. Called “Minis,” creation involves taking a picture of your face, with a number of fine-grained customization options available afterwards.

<string name=”camera_subtitle_msg”>”We’ll create a character

<string name=”camera_title_msg”>Fit your face here</string>

<string name=”avatar_preview_customize_msg”>CUSTOMIZE</string>

<string name=”avatar_preview_done_msg”>Done</string>

<string name=”avatar_preview_subtitle_msg”>Customize each style, or both, then click %1$s.</string>

<string name=”avatar_preview_title_msg”>Try out your minis!</string>

<string name=”avatar_promo_create”>CREATE</string>

<string name=”avatar_promo_see_all”>SEE ALL</string>

<string name=”avatar_promo_text”>Customized stickers based on you</string>

<string name=”avatar_promo_title”>Your minis</string>

<string name=”back_alert_cancel”>CANCEL</string>

<string name=”back_alert_confirm”>START OVER</string>

<string name=”back_alert_msg”>Your minis, photo, and all changes will be lost.</string>

<string name=”back_alert_title”>Starting over?</string>

<string name=”cd_left_customize_button”>Double tap to customize the left avatar pack</string>

<string name=”cd_right_customize_button”>Double tap to customize the right avatar pack</string>

<string name=”cd_shutter_button”>Double tap to take a picture</string>

<string name=”character_counter_content_description”>Character limit exceeded %1$d of %2$d</string>

<string name=”character_counter_pattern”>%1$d / %2$d</string>

How to update?

Version 3.5 of Android Messages is rolling out now via the Play Store. We do not post APKs to download directly given the legal challenges associated with copyright and possibility of removal. Meanwhile, that model moving forward is perilous given upcoming system-level changes from Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.

Dylan contributed to this article

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: