Google announced today two updates for Messages, the default SMS app in the Android mobile operating system.
Starting today, Android users in the US and selected countries will get access to two new features named Verified SMS and Spam Protection.
As the name of the first feature hints, Verified SMS works by confirming the identity of the SMS sender.
“When a message is verified-which is done without sending your messages to Google-you’ll see the business name and logo as well as a verification badge in the message thread,” said Roma Slyusarchuk, a Google Software Engineer on the Messages app.
The Verified SMS will only be used to verify the authenticity of SMS messages sent by businesses. It won’t verify and add a verification badge to messages sent by normal users.
Google said it created this feature to help users trust the messages they receive, especially for “things like one-time passwords, account alerts or appointment confirmations.”
The Android OS maker didn’t explain how the new feature works, but it did say that it should be able to detect SMS messages sent from random numbers, previously not associated with a company, and consequently, help prevent some phishing attacks.
Google said it tested the feature with companies like 1-800-Flowers, Banco Bradesco, Kayak, Payback, and SoFi, but any company can sign up via its Developers portal.
Verified SMS is being rolled out starting today to nine countries: the US, India, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, France, Philippines, Spain, and Canada.
The second Messages app feature announced today is named Spam Protection. This feature works by showing a notification bar at the top of the Messages app when the app believes a newly-received message contains the markers of a classic SMS spam text.
Just like the Verified SMS feature, Google said Spam Protection would work without sending the user’s SMS message to Google’s servers, keeping conversations private.
Instructions on how to enable Spam Protection are available in this Google support page.
Google said the feature has been active in a few countries already, but starting today, it will be broadly available for US users as well.