Verizon joins its rivals, will include RCS powered Android Messages app with new phones next year

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Verizon joins its rivals, will include RCS powered Android Messages app with new phones next year
Verizon has announced today that it will be pre-installing the Android Messaging app on all of the Android phones it sells. Verizon joins its rivals T-Mobile, and AT&T in offering the app which will help replace outgoing SMS with RCS Chat (Rich Communication Service). RCS, unlike SMS, runs through the data network allowing it to be used over the Wi-Fi network. As a result, RCS has many more features than plain old text.

For example, RCS allows users to send messages as large as 8,000 characters in length, supports the transfer of larger video files, offers group chats, sends read receipts and more. The three major U.S. carriers had originally planned on offering an RCS app called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI). The app was to be developed by Synchronoss but the three wireless providers pulled out of the venture and have decided on offering the Android Messages app instead which supports RCS by default..

Verizon says that it will support interoperability so that customers of the three major carriers will be able to message each other using the same RCS features. And RCS is rolling out end-to-end encryption.  Interestingly, as pointed out by The Verge, next year messages between Android and iOS users will be less secure than messages between two people using the same platform. That is because an iOS user sending a message to an Android user will be using SMS instead of RCS.

Meanwhile, Google would be happy to have Apple aboard the RCS locomotive. Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS, and the Play Store said that getting the three major stateside carriers to agree to use RCS is a big deal, but getting Apple to use RCS would be an even bigger one. Previously Lockheimer had invited Apple to use RCS.

Right now though, it doesn't appear that Google has any plans to offer a version of RCS for iOS. The GSMA says that currently there are 473 million active RCS users. That number will jump higher as more U.S. Android users start to download RCS on their phones. Verizon plans to continue offering its own Verizon Messages+ app along with Android Messages and don't expect to find the latter on your new Android phone purchased from Verizon until 2022.

Lockheimer notes that Google would rather offer the slightly open RCS platform instead of having a Google developed messaging app being the default on Android. " He says, "We don’t think there should be one messaging app to rule them all. We fully realize people are going to use multiple messaging apps."

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