By 2022, all Verizon Android phones will be able to send and receive RCS messages.
The Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol has finally found a road to ubiquity in the United States, after more than a half-decade of effort. Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) announced today that it is working with Google to offer the next-generation SMS replacement to all of its users, following similar announcements from T-Mobile and AT&T earlier this year.
Existing Verizon customers who use the carrier’s Message+ app will have full access to the RCS suite before the end of the year, including real-time typing indicators and read receipts. The Messages by Google software will be preinstalled on all of the company’s phones starting next year. RCS features like end-to-end encryption for one-on-one talks and the ability to share full-resolution images will be available as soon as that happens.
To suggest that today’s announcement marks a watershed moment for Google is an understatement. RCS has been pushed by Google for years, and at times it appeared as if it was doomed to fail like so many of the company’s previous mobile messaging attempts. The protocol didn’t “simply work” like iMessage at first since carrier buy-in was required.
Even if you went out of your way to download Google Messages in the early years, there was no guarantee you’d gain any of the claimed benefits. That’s because, more often than not, the person you were texting didn’t have an RCS-capable app loaded on their phone, and they weren’t on a carrier that supported the platform.
As a result, the majority of Android talks defaulted to SMS. With Google Messages being pre-installed on the majority of new Android phones in the United States, this should be the exception rather than the rule. Apple is likewise in an odd situation as a result of today’s statement. The company, which was once a pioneer in the field, is now on the outside looking in on a more widely adopted environment.
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