A New Era For Users Of Android’s Messages App Starts Later This Month

Instead of continuing to wait for major carriers from all around the world to get together to support the global rollout of RCS (Rich Communication Services), Google is now taking the next generation of Android messaging system into its own hands. It starts later this month in France and the U.K., Android users will be able to opt into RCS Chat services of Google. Eventually, this will be offered in more countries by the end of this year, and with Google taking care of all the matter directly; eventually, we could see RCS made available for all Android phones.


The platform specifically developed to replace SMS (short message service) on Android handsets does away with the 160-character text limit and supports group messages. It also will show a user that a text he sent has been read (known as “read receipt“) and will show when someone who is part of a chat is in the middle of typing a text. The RCS platform lets users engage in a video chat without the need to separately install a third-party app such as Duo and supports to share large files.

What are the features that RCS is missing that some other messaging apps have? That is end-to-end encryption. This is a key privacy and security feature provided on third-party apps available for Android like Telegram and WhatsApp. But Google is working on it and Sanaz Ahari, one of the Googlers who are in charge of Messages app of Android says, “We fundamentally believe that communication, especially messaging, is highly personal and users have a right to privacy for their communications. And we’re fully committed to finding a solution for our users.”

Ahari also adds that the goal is “a great, simple user experience that just works for every Android user.”

Google is working to add end-to-end encryption for RCS

At least at first, Google will offer RCS to those Messages users who will choose the service when it is available in their market. When that happens, users will be able to open the Android Messages app and will receive a prompt showing a message if they’d like to sign up for RCS Chat, which is the name of Google for the SMS replacement. On new Android handsets, Messages will remain the default messaging app and once the app is opened, users will get a message if they’d like to opt-in to RCS Chat. This is quite different than the way Apple automatically has iOS user’s opt-in to Messages. As Google will offer RCS Chat to all its Android users, it completely up to them to make their own choice whether to accept it.

In Apple’s Messages, if the user notices iMessage in the text field, this shows that he is conversing with another iOS user. If he notices a text message in the same field, the conversation is most likely with an Android user. Google will also do something similar; if you see Chat on the app, it describes that the person on the other end of the message also has RCS. To clear things, RCS does not have end-to-end encryption; the messages are encrypted en route going from the sender to recipient, but if your RCS provider is asked by law enforcement for a copy of your RCS based conversation, the information can be delivered to them. However, once a message is received by the recipient, it is removed from Google’s servers. Drew Rowny, the product lead for the Android Messages app says “From a data retention point of view, we delete the message from our RCS backend service the moment we deliver it to an end user. If we keep it, it’s just to deliver it when that person comes online.

Android users should feel better about the timeline to receive RCS now that Google is handling the rollout itself. This means that the approval of carriers is not required. And the faster that RCS is rolled out, the quicker Android users can enjoy it.

(Via: The Verge)

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