Last year Google announced its plans to make texting on Android a richer experience. This would be accomplished through Rich Communication Services (RCS) but it needed one key ingredient – the buy-in of network operators.
Now despite not having that buy-in Google will move ahead with rolling out RCS in the US. The feature has been live in the UK, France and Mexico since earlier this year.
The trouble is that users won’t get the functionality in their native messaging app unless that app happens to be Google Messages. This shouldn’t be a problem for most Android users (RCS does not work on iOS) but Samsung owners, for example, will have to download the app from the Google Play Store.
RCS brings the functionality we’ve grown to expect from instant messaging services to Google Messages. With RCS enabled users would see things such as typing indicators, whether the person was online, location sharing, group messages, better support for multimedia and more.
As Android users here at Hypertext we’re glad to see the rollout of RCS however gradual it may be. It does also sting slightly to know that Google hasn’t been able to encourage network operators to jump on board.
We say this because it means that moving forward we may see Google insisting manufacturers make use of Google Messages as the default Android messaging app.
The core reason for this would be cohesion. As it stands every messaging app for Android is different because many manufacturers opt to use their own solution.
RCS hoped to fix this by standardising the features available on text messages at a network operator level. That would mean you wouldn’t have to use Google Messages.
Unfortunately for Google, network operators have been slow to implement RCS or simply unwilling to let Google into their house.
The latter is more likely as The Verge reports US network operators have created their own version of RCS called Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) which boasts many of the features Google was talking up.
Google says it will interoperate with CCMI.
The question locally now becomes – will RCS land here? The answer is more than likely it will but whether it will be Google’s solution at an operator level, Google’s solution at an Android level or an independent network solution such as that in the US remains to be seen.
Honestly we hoped RCS would simplify texting on Android but it just increasingly feels more complex than it’s worth.
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