How Google plans to fix the default Android messaging app

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To speak frankly for a moment the only time I ever open the SMS app on my Android phone is to clear notifications from my bank.

Beyond that, SMS is very much dead to me.

Granted SMS apps on smartphones have become better over time, such as the ability to click links within messages, but beyond that SMS really is behind the times.

Which is why Google is trying to spearhead a move to Rich Communication Services (RCS) using the name Chat.

Chat is not a new messaging app like Allo as The Verge points out, but rather the consumer friendly name for RCS. RCS includes set of features that improve the user experience in the default messaging app.

These features included read receipts, full resolution video and images, and even typing indicators.

Sounds great right? We thought so as well until we learned that Chat is dependent on network operators making the switch to a RCS protocol. In the US the majority of networks appear to be on-board but the same can’t be said for the rest of the world.

We’ve contacted local mobile network operators to find out if RCS is something they’re thinking about and we’ll be sure to update you when they get back to us.

What RCS means for you

The implementation of Chat would bring with it one of the best features we’ve seen in a while – the end of SMS bundles.

Chat would use your data plan to send messages. For those about to get upset at the prospect off spending even more on data The Verge says this data is minimal. Of course that depends on what you are sending. A 4K resolution photo in RAW format would obviously use more data than a simple text message.

There’s also the possibility for smarter messaging services with brands. For instance, you could text your hairdresser to make an appointment. Using a bot the hairdresser could automatically respond to you and book your appointment. No app required, at least from the user’s end.

The service is also backwards compatible with SMS so if you’re texting somebody that uses a feature phone the RCS message would be converted back into an SMS.

We must stress again however that Chat is reliant on network operators implementing the protocol and Google has to encourage them to do that for its operating system to reap the benefits.

Then there is the matter of handsets housing support for RCS.

It’s a massive moving puzzle and we’re keen to see how, or rather if Google can get it right.


[Image – CC BY 2.0  MIKI Yoshihito]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.


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