Google Attempts to Fix Messaging Woes With Chat; An RCS-based Text Messaging Platform
There is no doubt that Google is an industry leader across several fields, but messaging apps isn’t one of them. On the contrary, the company has an array of messaging apps that often confuse users. On the other hand, Apple’s iMessage is leagues ahead and is arguably one of the best messaging apps on the market. iMessage offers the whole package, including end-to-end encryption, read receipts and emoji support, while Android is still stuck on SMS.
It’ll be a while before Android’s stock texting solution comes anywhere close to iMessage, and Google appears to be taking some long overdue steps in that direction. Google has been collaborating with major carriers to phase out SMS altogether and usher in the era of RCS (Rich Communication Service).
Better than iMessage? Not really
The app, known as ‘Chat’, will offer everything a modern-day messaging app does, with the notable exception of end-to-end encryption. Messages sent over Chat will still be subject to local laws and can be intercepted by local agencies if needed.
Over time, it will automatically be turned on inside Android Messages, the OS’s default app for texting. The major advantage of sticking to Android Messages is because it comes pre-installed on almost all Android devices by default. Additionally, it is easily downloadable via the Play Store.
The new Chat services will be turned on for most people soon, though timing will be dictated by each carrier. Chat messages will be sent with your data plan instead of your SMS plan, so you’ll likely only be charged for whatever data it costs to send a message. However, it remains at the discretion of the carriers and isn’t something Google can control.
Carrier participation is key
Ideally, all major carriers should be on board and enable the functionality for their users, but there will very likely be the odd company or two that refuses to flip the switch. Historically, carriers haven’t been too keen on supporting apps that eat into their SMS revenue, and Chats is no exception.
If you’re texting someone who’s on a carrier that doesn’t support Chat, then it’ll switch to a traditional SMS, much like iMessage. We don’t know anything about iOS compatibility with Chats, as Apple has been silent about it.