Less than two weeks ago, just as Verizon gave the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ access to RCS messaging, I shared with you a few pointed thoughts on how bad the RCS situation has become. In fact, I said that “RCS is dumb” because of the way Google has tried to roll it out, by leaving too much power in the hands of carriers, who are the last companies on Earth anyone should put trust into.
I don’t want to take credit for slamming their initial plan, but things are apparently about to change on the RCS front for the better. According to a report from The Verge, Google is finally going to take ownership of the RCS rollout and start making it available to anyone with an Android phone.
Later this month, Android users in the UK and France will be able to opt-in to using RCS “Chat” on their phones through Google’s Messages app (at least we’re assuming that’s the case). After those first two countries, additional countries will gain access as well, though we don’t know any specifics on the US or others, only that we’ll see more this year.
OK, so how will this work? How can Google bypass carriers and give everyone RCS? It sounds like Google has decided to host RCS through its Messages app using its Jibe platform. They must have figured out a way to get Jibe to work with other RCS platforms, because The Verge says RCS from Google will work between carriers as long as their RCS is built on the Universal Profile.
So rather than you waiting for your carrier to turn on RCS for your specific phone, and then hope that it’s the proper version of RCS to work between carriers and other phones that aren’t the same as yours, you may now just get RCS thanks to Google. That’ll mean read receipts, typing indicators, better group chats, and better media sharing within your conversations. RCS is the future of messaging and Google may have found a way to finally bring it to you.
Now, apologies if I’m not ready to claim today as the beginning of a new messaging day. After all, Google first brought up RCS back in 2016 and nothing has really changed in terms of adoption. Carriers were given power over the situation and they failed as they always do to provide an experience that customers everywhere would benefit from. Will that all change as Google claims to be taking control? I hope so.
To recap, Google is going to let Android users opt-in to RCS “Chat” in the UK and France this month. We’re assuming that’s all Android users as long as they install the Android Messages app. Later this year, additional countries will gain access too, and we’re expecting this to work across carriers and phones.