There are many ways to enter emoji and other expressive media, with most messaging apps offering their own experience. Google Messages is now redesigning its emoji and GIF picker while simplifying entry.

Update 7/13: A few weeks after it first appeared in May, the redesign disappeared. Many beta users (version 8.5) of Google Messages are now seeing the updated emoji/expressive media picker and the shorter ‘+’ menu. Curiously, the Assistant row is missing here for a handful of people. The overall look does not yet appear to be rolled out for those on the stable (8.3) channel.


Original 5/20: Google’s Messages app today has three ways to insert content other than text. In the messaging field next to the send button, there’s a smiley face. This currently brings up a standard emoji picker. In the redesign, this is joined by tabs for GIFs and stickers, as well as a prominent search field at the very top.

As part of this, Google has removed GIFs and stickers from the ‘+’ at the very left. That menu is now shorter, and thus, you do not have to scroll to access location, contact, and file sharing. Meanwhile, a small tweak to Assistant here sees Google make use of custom icons for restaurants, movies, and weather rather than just the generic logo. 

New Messages emoji picker

Overall, this cleans up media insertion in Google Messages a great deal and acknowledges how emoji, GIFs, and stickers are the main form of content people want to add when messaging — followed by media. Those expressive options are now consolidated into one menu. It’s also an alternative to the native Gboard experience.

This change to Google Messages with version 8.0, with many seeing another update from the Play Store today.

Old Messages

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Google Messages rolling out unified emoji, GIF, and sticker picker with search [Updated]
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