Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Google is working on a new messaging service. But wait, there might be a silver lining here.
The Verge has a report that outlines Google’s next big initiative in aiming to fix Android’s text messaging woes. But unlike past attempts, which includes Allo, this is going to focus on fixing the stock messaging app and building out features directly into it rather than launching an entirely different service altogether.
The new idea is called Chat, and it will be built into Android Messages. It utilizes Rich Communication Services (RCS), which will upgrade the texting experience by including features like read receipts, support for full-res photos and videos, typing indicators, and read receipts. Basically, all of the features that you have (probably) grown to love in a variety of different messaging apps out there.
To get RCS as the default texting method on Android, Google needs support from just about every company that has anything to do with smartphones. That includes carriers, of which the top 4 in the United States have already said they’ll support the feature. In fact, Sprint supports RCS right now and T-Mobile says it will support Chat before the end of the second quarter of this year. AT&T and Verizon haven’t announced any support timelines yet, unfortunately.
In addition, Google already has support from 55 carriers in total across the globe and 11 smartphone manufacturers on board. We already know Huawei plans on supporting the initiative, and Samsung has also confirmed it will be on board.
Google obviously supports the new Chat feature, but Microsoft is supporting the feature, too. That hints that the company may be building a chat app for Windows 10 at some point in the future, but Microsoft hasn’t confirmed anything yet. Google is also working on a “web interface”, which users will authenticate with a QR code.
If you’re wondering about Apple? The company doesn’t support RCS at this time, with its own iMessage service already offering these features. But Google and other companies are in talks with Apple right now in an effort to get the company to support it.
One more major detail: RCS messaging, unlike iMessage or Signal, is not encrypted. RCS messaging also uses your data plan, except in the event that you send a message to someone who doesn’t support RCS. In that case, the recipient won’t receive the rich message, but it will instead revert back to a standard SMS.
As for the aforementioned Allo? Well, Google is “pausing investment” in the messaging service as it focuses on rolling out Chat. So if you are using Allo, you might want to start weening yourself off.
What do you think of Google’s newest attempt to fix Android text messaging?