Google is attempting to refurbish its text messaging feature by teaming up with major phone carriers like Sprint, T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and Vodafone to modernize SMS and MMS to a newer communications standard called Rich Communications Services, or RCS, which would enable users to send better quality photos, start group chats, and potentially do a lot more in the future.
Google aims to standardize RCS
Not even one of these features sounds exciting to us in 2016 as people have access to them and more features on other messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, and even Apple’s iMessage. However, the introduction of RCS could probably still help in simplifying our communications mess.
If app developers install it into their default messaging apps on new Android phones, then doing video chat could one day be as easy as sending a text message — meaning no more wasting time on figuring out whether to use Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, or so on.
Google is working on standardizing RCS with 19 phone carriers, as well as the GSMA, a group that represents hundreds of carriers worldwide. RCS has been in the works for several years and is available on some phones already; therefore, a planned push from the internet firm with carriers’ cooperation could accelerate its progress. Google Communications Products VP Nick Fox calls this partnership a step toward creating a better messaging experience for Android users worldwide.
Not all carriers onboard
As of now, it’s not certain exactly how RCS will be brought to practice or if it will actually work across all carriers. Though the partner carriers have agreed to converge on a single RCS standard supported by Android, the announcement suggests that they will not get there instantly. Instead, they will transition toward the new RCS standard, which probably will take time.
Also it was noted that two major carriers — AT&T and Verizon — aren’t listed in this announcement. Even though T-Mobile’s owner is listed, it does not mean T-Mobile itself is involved, a T-Mobile spokesperson clarified to The Verge. If the carriers themselves are not coming on board, it would be a critical issue for developing a “universal messaging standard.”
Even if RCS does follow in order, it’ll have a hard time achieving what is likely the carriers’ hidden goal: finding a revenue stream to replace text message fees.