Google, seemingly unsatisfied with the incredibly long list of short-lived communications solutions that it has produced, is trying once again. Reportedly, the latest attempt is known as Chat. Google is targeting at positioning Chat as a complete replacement for SMS and an iMessage killer. But the thing that is more important, is that it hopefully would help Google finally solve the seemingly unaccomplishable goal of *checks notes* sending text messages.
Despite designing another app that the company has already done countless times to middling success, this time Google is targeting at adopting a new standard for messaging that would move the users away from SMS. To accomplish this, Google quietly has been lobbying the major mobile carriers to adopt a new technology, known as Rich Communication Services (RCS).
Chat essentially is just the consumer-friendly face slapped atop the stuffy name given to the communication protocol. Chat would be accessible via Android Messages, the default messaging app, which comes installed on most of the Android devices. When Chat goes live, which is expected sometime later in the current year, would automatically be turned on within the existing Android Messages app and would supersede SMS as the primary protocol for messaging. Texts going in between the users with Chat would be sent over RCS, and those Chat messages would be sent through a user’s data plan rather than the SMS plan. Reportedly those messages would only eat up a couple of bytes per message. The conversations with those who would not be using the new protocol would default back to SMS. Microsoft and Google are on board with RCS, but Apple is not.
Chat supports several amenities of a modern messaging app. It would offer read receipts, group texts, typing indicators, and full resolution pictures and videos. Chat would not support end-to-end encryption, which implies that the messages could potentially be intercepted by law enforcement or malicious actors. The lack of support for such security retains Chat a step behind the alternatives such as Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal.
Reportedly, the adoption of RCS would enable Google to build out features that for too long have been absent from its messaging services. Google would likely develop a desktop interface for texting, which would let users send messages from a device other than their phone. Expectedly, the company would also build out new integrations for Chat, including the ability to send stickers and GIFs, as well as make it compatible with the other Google products such as Google Assistant and Google Photos.
There is one big hang up, which might make the Android users cringe. The whole system needs carriers, not Google, to flip the switch and support Chat. The Android users know all too well that carriers are not the most eager to adopt updates. Android has been fragmented, with the majority of the users still running older versions of the OS while they wait for carriers to provide updates. Google said that it already has 55 carriers globally on board with the new communication protocol and believes that most would begin offering support for Chat later in the current year.
Google already has failed in achieving some great response for its communication platforms. Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google Voice, Google Spaces, and Gchat are all dead with the Duo and Alo hanging on a thread.