Google Messages and "Chat Features"

So I guess a year or so ago, Google started using RCS in the native Android text messaging app and is deprecating Hangouts. Around the same time they apparently introduced a feature they call “sync” that basically turns the messaging app into a web service, so you don’t need to be connected to the phone to do messaging. Both of these are great features: my office is a reception hole and it would be nice to be able to just access my messaging through the web without needing my phone to have reception.

BUT, Google being Google, you can’t enable both of them at the same time if you’re a Google Fi customer. I didn’t know that and…

I got a new phone. It’s a Moto-to-Moto transfer, so should be painless. I did the whole activate and transfer thing. When I opened up my messaging app on the new phone, there were no messages more recent than August 15. I assumed that maybe they hadn’t been synced to Google One, so I grabbed the old phone, fished through the settings in the messaging app and found one that said something about “activate sync.” This looked right, I clicked it, got a cursory and cryptic warning about “disabling chat features” and clicked through. Big. Fucking. Mistake.

Google proceeded to disenroll me from every single group chat I’ve ever been part of and send a text message to every one of those group chats saying “Matt_W has left the chat.” And chat features were now disabled on my new phone as well. It took hours of Googling and many device resets to re-enable chat features. Still am de-subscribed from all of my many dozens of group chats. Still don’t have any texts from the last two weeks. Chatting with Google support now.

tl;dr: Do not, for the love of god, disable chat features on your Android messaging app.

Yep, it’s super shitty. I went through basically the same pain when going through the Hangouts (RIP) deprecation a year or whatever ago. Luckily I didn’t have that many group chats, but good god what a shitshow.

Google is really, truly awful at messaging.

Oh yes, I remember something this when I was looking into web messaging for Google Fi. Google really shit the fucking bed with Fi for Voice users, like I can forward any fucking number on the planet to my Google Voice except a Fi number, come on. Oh, but they’ll let you mash them together, only if you do that you can never leave Fi or you lose your Voice number forever. It’s absolutely astounding how often they trip over their own dicks with both feet over there. First mover advantage really allowing them to rest on their laurels.

Yeah, very frustrating.

Because I’m a Google One subscriber, I get premium support. While I was on the chat with support the backup which had been spinning for hours suddenly finished. (They must have done something.) But apparently the only way to restore a SMS backup to a phone is through factory reset. So, I had to reset the phone, reload all my apps, relog in to everything. But the good thing is all of my messages are back (though I’m still unsubscribed from all of my group chats.)

And then after hacking the phone in order to transfer my Baba Is You save file to the new one, and then having to format my SD card because they no longer support extended memory, I finally now have what feels like a working phone with a rough facsimile of the features I had before.

My messages aren’t making any noise and I don’t know why. I suspect if I am logged into the web app on a PC it will not make sounds on my phone. This is very annoying.

For what it’s worth, notifications for Google Chat keep turning themselves off on my phone. The setting is not easily accessible via a mis-click, so I don’t think I’m doing it, but yeah, it continuously happens and then I gotta go manually turn em back on again. About once a week ever since I switched.

Apparently, my volume for Rings and Notifications was minimized! Yay I can hear messages now!