New era for users of Android's Messages app starts later this month

New era for users of Android's Messages app starts later this month
Instead of continuing to wait for carriers worldwide to get together to support the global rollout of Rich Communication Services (RCS), Google is taking the next generation of Android messaging into its own hands. According to The Verge, starting later this month in the U.K. and France, Android users will be able to opt into Google's own RCS Chat services. Eventually, this will be offered in more countries later this year, and with Google taking care of this directly; eventually, we could see RCS made available for all Android handsets.

The platform developed to replace short message service (SMS) on Android phones does away with the 160 character limit on texts and supports group messages. It also will show a user that a text he sent has been read (the so-called "read receipt") and will show when someone who is part of a chat is in the middle of typing a message. The RCS platform also allows users to engage in a video chat without the necessity of installing a third party app like Duo and supports the sharing of large files.

What RCS doesn't have that some other messaging apps do is end-to-end encryption. This is a key security and privacy feature offered on third-party titles available for Android like WhatsApp and Telegram. But Google is working on it and Sanaz Ahari, one of the Googlers in charge of Android's Messages app 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 adds that the goal is "a great, simple user experience that just works for every Android user."

Google is working on adding end-to-end encryption for RCS


Google, at least at first, will offer RCS to those Messages users who opt-in for the service when it is available in their market. When that happens, users will open the Android Messages app and will receive a prompt asking them if they'd like to sign up for RCS Chat, which is Google's name for the SMS replacement. On new Android phones, Messages will remain the default messaging app and once the app is opened, users will be asked if they'd like to opt-in to RCS Chat. This is different than the way Apple automatically has iOS users opt-in to Messages. While Google will indeed offer RCS Chat to all Android users, they will still get to make their own choice whether to accept it.


In Apple's Messages, if the user sees iMessage in the text field, he knows that he is conversing with another iOS user. If he sees text message in the same field, the conversation he is having is most likely with an Android user. Google will do something similar; if you see Chat on the app, it means that the person on the other end of the message also has RCS. And as we pointed out, RCS does not have end-to-end encryption; the messages are encrypted en route 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 for receiving RCS now that Google is handling the rollout itself. This means that carriers' approval is not needed. And the faster that RCS is rolled out, the quicker Android users can enjoy it.


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11 Comments

1. saifuddinadnan

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 12, 2019

I can sense the downfall of whatsapp in the coming years....

6. CEDEOTB

Posts: 408; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

WhatsApp should redesign their app and UI and allow for SMS support.

11. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2347; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I think Whatsapp was sensing the downfall when they were bought by Facebook. However, for users that are still concerned about their security it may be some time before other third-party messaging apps go away considering this still doesn't offer end-to-end encryption.

2. Rixarm

Posts: 12; Member since: May 20, 2013

RCS - Rich Communication Service

3. WAusJackBauer

Posts: 455; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Thank god. Was just dealing with the issue of how of much images get compressed over the current system.

4. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I have to check if the latest versions of Android have MMS control. If it still doesn't, this service is potentially too costly (the messages are delivered as MMS and a lot of countries charge extra for them). Kudos Google for bypassing the carriers.

7. bucknassty

Posts: 1330; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

about time they gave the carriers the middle finger, hope they do it more often

5. surethom

Posts: 1685; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

How do i transfer all my current sms' into Android messages? not importing on my Huawei Mate 10 pro?

8. checkmymike

Posts: 219; Member since: Dec 28, 2011

Just dl android messages, set it as the default sms app, then it will automatically dl.all ur messages

9. Mike88

Posts: 375; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

And they will give all these information to Indians for hacking their info,, oh Google ceo stop your mission

10. Fred3

Posts: 516; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

Cool..

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