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RCS messaging: Google’s most significant shift nonetheless in Android texting officially released in the US – CNET


Google is launching a major update to its Android Messages app.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Texting on Android telephones is about to get a large amount far better, Google claimed Thursday. The maker of the widely used running method is launching a important update to its Messages app in the US that will modernize texting on Android telephones. The update, which will integrate functions this kind of as study receipts and exiting team chats, is a single of the major actions Google has taken with Android, which lags much behind Apple’s iOS when it arrives to texting. (Here is how the RCS texting app update compares to Apple’s iMessages app.)

The much-anticipated update is designed achievable by the rollout of a know-how known as RCS, or Prosperous Conversation Expert services. RCS is intended to swap SMS, or Quick Concept Service, a stalwart but exhausted protocol that is more than 25 many years previous.

The update will give you capabilities such as:

  • Chat above Wi-Fi
  • Sending and acquiring high-resolution photos and videos
  • Browse receipts
  • Typing indicators
  • Team chat naming
  • Introducing and eliminating people today from group chats

In an interview, Sanaz Ahari, director of solution administration for Google’s communications providers, acknowledged the update was very long overdue, indicating the SMS protocol at this time used in the Android program lacks “lacks the functions customers assume from modern-day messaging.”

“These are table stakes functions,” Ahari reported. “It truly is a pretty critical stage in the suitable path.”

People today can transform on RCS by opening up the Android Messages application and, when prompted, enabling the chat options. If another Android telephone also has RCS enabled, text messages will immediately use the new protocol. Google is executing a slow rollout and only about one% of Android phones will get the update Thursday. Most men and women in the US will get the new options “by the finish of the 12 months.”

A single aspect that is notably lacking is finish-to-conclusion encryption, which secures messages so only the sender and receiver can examine them. It has turn out to be a privateness typical in messaging applications, such as Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Ahari claimed the enterprise proceeds to examine the problem.

“It is a pretty challenging subject matter,” Ahari reported when requested why finish-to-stop encryption isn’t really involved. She claimed there are “technical complexities,” as nicely as legal and coverage implications. Google also has to believe about its ecosystem of partners, which incorporates wi-fi carriers, cellphone makers and third get-togethers. She reported Google will not read messages or use them for customized advertisement-focusing on.

With RCS, messages will stream as a result of Google’s servers, mentioned Drew Rowny, Google’s merchandise lead for Messages. That suggests Google would have to comply with regulation enforcement requests if, say, it was issued a subpoena. But Rowny explained Google deletes messages from its servers as soon as they’re sent, so it truly is a lot less possible it would have the data to hand over.

‘We will need to get our very own property in order’

The RCS announcement has been a extended time coming. The corporation has been operating on the initiative because 2016. Google launched RCS in the British isles and France in July. Rolling out the merchandise hasn’t been as basic as just setting up and releasing it like any other Google assistance. Because of Android’s labyrinthine ecosystem, the corporation has to navigate a tangled world wide web of carrier and system associates.

Texting on Android will contain factors like typing indicators and read receipts.


Continue to, Google is getting cost of the RCS rollout alternatively of relying on the carriers to do it — an unconventional action for a business so dependent on its ecosystem of partners. The research large took the exact route when rolling out RCS in the United kingdom and France. Ahari said Google has been in “near get hold of” with the carriers, and pressured that they all broadly want messaging to be driven by RCS. Final thirty day period, the four major US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — teamed up to kind the Cross Provider Messaging Initiative, a joint undertaking aimed at standardizing RCS.

Google wielding its electricity to get charge of the RCS rollout could get worried regulators currently scrutinizing the firm’s current market dominance. The tech large is dealing with numerous antitrust investigations in the US. In Europe, Google was fined Google $five billion last yr for anticompetitive techniques relating to Android.

Whilst Thursday’s start is targeted on the US, it is a important shift for Android as a complete, which accounts for nearly nine of each 10 smartphones shipped. The strength of Android’s products and services is also vital to Google’s all round business enterprise simply because the operating technique serves as a gateway to the firm’s other services, like lookup and maps.

The RCS update is also essential when it comes to Google’s rivalry with Apple. Apple iphone customers normally deride Android’s texting deficiencies. They also mock the environmentally friendly bubble applied to suggest Android users on iMessage. The change in platforms generally causes glitches in team texts.

While the RCS launch is a huge stage, it isn’t really the “conclude-all, be-all,” Ahari claimed. It would not make a big difference in Apple-Android interactions except if Apple supports it on iPhones. Google would really like that, though it is unlikely Apple would give up the standing barrier, which legitimately keeps some people from switching to Android. (Apple failed to reply to a ask for for comment.)

The start is about getting texting on Android up to par fairly than fixing the concern of the “green bubble problem,” Ahari reported. “We will need to get our own residence in get.”

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