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Google’s RCS messaging: Texting on Android phones is about to get a lot better – CNET

Google’s RCS messaging: Texting on Android phones is about to get a lot better – CNET


Google is launching a huge update to its Android Messages application.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Texting on Android phones is about to get a great deal much better, Google said Thursday. The maker of the broadly used functioning technique is launching a important update to its Messages application in the USthat will modernize texting on Android telephones. The update will consist of a number of options that Apple iphone end users have extensive savored in iMessages, which includes examine receipts and exiting team chats. RCS messaging is 1 of the major steps Google has taken with Android, which lags far driving Apple’s iOS when it will come to texting. (Here is how the RCS texting application update compares to Apple’s iMessages application.)

The substantially-predicted update is made achievable by the rollout of a technology named RCS, or Abundant Communication Services. RCS is intended to replace SMS, or Shorter Message Support, a stalwart but weary protocolthat’s much more than twenty five several years outdated

The update will give you attributes like: 

  • Chat over Wi-Fi
  • Sending and receiving significant-resolution pictures and videos 
  • Study receipts
  • Typing indicators
  • Team chat naming
  • Including and eliminating people today from group chats

In an interview, Sanaz Ahari, director of product management for Google’s communications companies, acknowledged the update was long overdue, indicating the SMS protocol currently applied in the Android technique lacks “lacks the capabilities consumers assume from modern messaging.”

“These are desk stakes attributes,” Ahari claimed. “It really is a really essential action in the appropriate way.”

Persons can change on RCS by opening up the Android Messages application and, when prompted, enabling the chat capabilities. If one more Android mobile phone also has RCS enabled, textual content messages will routinely use the new protocol. Google is accomplishing a slow rollout and only about one% of Android telephones will get the update Thursday. Most persons in the US will get the new characteristics “by the stop of the yr.”

Just one feature which is notably lacking is close-to-close encryption, which secures messages so only the sender and receiver can browse them. It has turn into a privateness normal in messaging apps, together with Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Ahari said the business carries on to research the concern.

“It is a fairly complex topic,” Ahari said when requested why conclude-to-stop encryption is not involved. She mentioned there are “technical complexities,” as nicely as authorized and coverage implications. Google also has to believe about its ecosystem of companions, which involves wi-fi carriers, cell phone makers and 3rd get-togethers. She said Google won’t go through messages or use them for customized advert-targeting. 

With RCS, messages will movement as a result of Google’s servers, said Drew Rowny, Google’s product or service lead for Messages. That implies Google would have to comply with law enforcement requests if, say, it was issued a subpoena. But Rowny said Google deletes messages from its servers as before long as they’re despatched, so it can be considerably less very likely it would have the data to hand around. 

‘We need to have to get our possess household in order’

The RCS announcement has been a lengthy time coming. The enterprise has been performing on the initiative given that 2016. Google introduced RCS in the United kingdom and France in July. Rolling out the item has not been as straightforward as just making and releasing it like any other Google services. For the reason that of Android’s labyrinthine ecosystem, the enterprise has to navigate a tangled world wide web of provider and machine companions. 

Texting on Android will consist of issues like typing indicators and read receipts. 


Nevertheless, Google is using charge of the RCS rollout alternatively of relying on the carriers to do it — an abnormal move for a enterprise so dependent on its ecosystem of associates. The look for huge took the similar route when rolling out RCS in the Uk and France. Ahari explained Google has been in “near speak to” with the carriers, and pressured that they all broadly want messaging to be run by RCS. Previous month, the four significant US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — teamed up tokind the Cross Provider Messaging Initiative, a joint undertaking aimed at standardizing RCS.

Google wielding its power to get demand of the RCS rollout could fear regulators already scrutinizing the firm’s industry dominance. The tech big is experiencing multiple antitrust investigations in the US. In Europe, Google was fined Google $5 billion last year for anticompetitive techniques about Android. 

Even though Thursday’s launch is focused on the US, it can be a critical move for Android as a entire, which accounts for just about nine of each and every 10 smartphones delivered. The energy of Android’s products and services is also important to Google’s general business mainly because the functioning method serves as a gateway to the firm’s other providers, like research and maps. 

The RCS update is also critical when it comes to Google’s rivalry with Apple. Apple iphone end users normally deride Android’s texting deficiencies. They also mock the eco-friendly bubble made use of to suggest Android consumers on iMessage. The variation in platforms typically brings about glitches in team texts. 

Though the RCS launch is a large stage, it is just not the “conclude-all, be-all,” Ahari stated. It will not make a big difference in Apple-Android interactions unless Apple supports it on iPhones. Google would appreciate that, however it is not likely Apple would give up the position barrier, which legitimately retains some people from switching to Android. (Apple failed to react to a ask for for comment.) 

The start is about obtaining texting on Android up to par fairly than fixing the concern of the “green bubble trouble,” Ahari claimed. “We need to get our personal dwelling in get.” 

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