Okay, so it really doesn’t seem like Google has any idea what they’re doing with Android’s messaging situation. We now have Android Messages to replace Google Messenger, Hangouts is dead-but-not-really, and Allo is, uh, existing somewhere. It’s a messy, messy group of apps and services (and we didn’t even mention Google Voice) that doesn’t seem like it has any clear goal in sight.
You’re not crazy for thinking that, but Google is a huge company with a ton of people working around the clock and making decisions about these kinds of things. So while we may not fully understand or agree with everything they’re doing, there is a plan here, and that plan revolves around putting a ton of weight behind RCS and getting as many partners on board as possible.
In a blog post, Google talked about how SMS has fallen behind the times, and RCS is the cure to that. Text messaging hasn’t really evolved much since its inception, and it still doesn’t support photos very well, has a bunch of hard limitations, and has an incredibly short feature list next to iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and most other messaging options. RCS, on the other hand, can keep up. It supports high-resolution photo sharing, read receipts, and things like location sharing and sending money or paying for products. It’s definitely playing catch up to most other high-profile services, but better late than never.
That’s where Android Messages comes in. It’s supposedly Google’s vision for a standardized messaging experience that everyone all over the world can experience.
But all of those features are useless if phones and carriers don’t support them. Google has been working with a ton of hardware partners, including LG, Motorola, Sony, HTC, and many, many others (but not Samsung) to preload Android Messages on their devices, and they’re in talks with carriers to natively support RCS right out of the box. After all, these features are only useful if both people in the conversation have them.
All of these features aren’t just for consumers, though. Companies and brands can take advantage of RCS by sending out rich notifications to customers about package deliveries, bank alerts, or tons of other situations that go beyond just a simple text message. Google is creating an early access program to get more and more companies involved in RCS development to hopefully push adoption.
That’s the key to everything, though; fast and widespread adoption. If Google can get everyone on the same page, RCS should be fantastic. If they can’t, it’s just another “me too!” standard that’s doomed to fail in the wake of what Apple and Facebook have created.