Back in February early this year during the annual Mobile World Congress, Google had mentioned that it would be integrating Rich Communications Service (RCS) to mobile devices powered by its Android mobile operating system. Well, the tech giant is making good on that promise now, deploying RCS messaging to Android users with the help of major US wireless carrier Sprint.
For those not familiar with RCS, it is basically a new messaging standard that many consider as an upgraded version of the short message service (SMS) standard currently being used by most mobile devices right now. What makes RCS better than SMS? For starters, it allows for better group conversations, sharing of high resolution images, read receipts, and typing indicators.
Google has certainly capitalized on its acquisition of Jibe Mobile back in September of last year. Jibe Mobile specializes in RCS messaging, and its Jibe cloud platform will be powering Google’s RCS on Sprint. As for Android using subscribers of the fourth biggest wireless carrier in America, they can expect their regular SMS experience to be upgraded to RCS by way of Google’s redesigned Messenger mobile app, as long as their mobile devices run on Android KitKat or newer, and have chosen Messenger as the default SMS tool.
For those who have bought a Google Pixel smartphone, their device actually comes preinstalled with Messenger, so if they own an unlocked Pixel activated on Sprint’s network, they should instantly enjoy access to the RCS feature. Owners of Google Nexus handsets and certain LG devices will be automatically upgraded to RCS via a mobile app update, while those using other Android powered devices can update manually by downloading the Messenger app from the Google Play store. By 2017, all new handsets that run on Android will be preloaded with Messenger as the default SMS and RCS messaging platform.
There is plenty of reasons to get excited for RCS. The multimedia messaging service (MMS) of today generally allows group conversations, but still there are some limitations -- for instance, naming the group is not allowed, so is adding new members or exiting a group chat. These are the exact things that RCS will try to fix in its quest to improve the whole messaging experience for mobile users everywhere. Moreover, people (at least those signed up under Sprint’s network) get to share photos and video content a hundred times bigger than those allowed on MMS, set up read receipts, and have an idea if the person or persons they are chatting with are currently composing a message.
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