After years of carriers failing to agree on Universal Rich Communications Service, or RCS, a text messaging standard that supports advanced chat features between networks, Google says AT&T is getting involved to use its Jibe RCS platform.
Google senior vice president Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted the news late Friday that AT&T’s default Android messaging will use Jibe “so their users will get the latest RCS features immediately.”
Unlike SMS and MMS, which send messages over cellular networks, the RCS standard uses data networks to seamlessly send long messages, uncompressed photos, and large group chats.
Apple’s iMessage and chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger already use data to get these features, but it’s been difficult to get these advanced text features for basic messaging on Android devices.
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When is RCS coming to mobile?
Although in 2019 carriers attempted to introduce their own separate RCS standards and support rich text features on each other’s networks through a collaborative initiative, Google bought the Jibe platform that year to begin its own multi-network support efforts of RCS.
In 2020 for T-Mobile and by 2021 for AT&T and Verizon, all three major carriers agreed to have Google’s RCS messaging app pre-installed on phones to give users access to a feature-rich app for text messages. However, Friday’s news means that AT&T’s default messaging system will now use Jibe.
Google is rolling out more RCS smart texting features to its Messages app, such as adding emoticons to replies, in an effort to catch up with Apple’s iMessage. Despite blows from Google, Apple is in no rush to adopt the messaging standard — and at the Vox Media code conference last year, CEO Tim Cook even told an attendee that if he wanted to have seamless messaging when talking to family, “buy mom an iPhone.”
Lockheimer also noted that at Google I/O 2023 last month, the company announced that more than 800 million people are currently using RCS, which it expects to grow to 1 billion users by the end of 2023.
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