Published: Thu, June 20, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Google will now directly offer RCS features instead of waiting on carriers

Google will now directly offer RCS features instead of waiting on carriers

In February, Google said it was "working with many of our ecosystem partners, including Samsung, Huawei, America Movil, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor, and Vodafone, to make RCS more widely available".

RCS is a texting protocol that was developed by GSM Association to replace SMS back in 2008. Google has been supporting it from the beginning too, but it has proved slow to catch on, particularly as it previously involved your airtime provider to support it.

Android users will be able to take advantage of the new default texting feature.

Google has announced that Android users in the United Kingdom and France will be able to opt-in to RCS Chat service which will be provided directly by Google instead of waiting for network carriers to support it.

In response to the encryption issue, a Google spokesperson told The Verge, "We fundamentally believe that communication, especially messaging, is highly personal and users have a right to privacy for their communications". And were fully committed to finding a solution for our users. Google can still technically see the messages as they arrive on its servers and could be prompted to turn them over to law enforcement when asked.

What RCS doesn't have that some other messaging apps do is end-to-end encryption. Google now wants to run an RCS service (an upgrade to the aging SMS system) itself, with the service first launching in France and the United Kingdom later this month. So you won't need a new app and if you want to stick with SMS, you can.

Android users should feel better about the timeline for receiving RCS now that Google is handling the rollout itself.

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In addition to this, the RCS Chat will be a federated model, which means that no single person will be responsible for the messages sent. Google has a long history of losing focus with messaging services and apps, so I'm a little skeptical of the vague promise. Users can opt in regardless of whether their wireless network operator has implemented RCS.

But it didn't. And now we're supposed to believe that Google is going to successfully wrest control of RCS from the USA carriers and develop their own system on top of the one that Google won't even support on their own phones.

The user experience will just be the standard messaging experience, only that now a data connection will be required, failure to which, the message will be sent as a normal SMS (similar to what iMessage does). It's a clever mechanism, but it also creates an extra layer that could break, thus rendering RCS Chat unusable.

In addition to all of the old Allo problems, a Google-run RCS system practically defeats the whole goal of RCS.

TEXT MESSAGING is toast.

A Google-owned RCS system would be on the phone in addition to carrier-owned SMS.

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