Google is teaming up with a myriad of global phone carriers in a move to facilitate the rollout of its Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android. At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the search giant and a bunch of carriers revealed that they are trying to drive the adoption of RCS. The interoperable messaging standard gives iMessage-like capability to anyone on Android.
Venture Beat reports that the agreement sees Google team up with a number of regional and global carriers, including America Movil, Deutche Telekom, Millicom, Sprint, TeliaSonera, Turkcell, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Globe Telecom, Orange, Telenor Group, Telstra, Vodafone and the wireless standards body GSMA. According to GSMA, which runs MWC, the mobile carriers have agreed to shift towards a universal profile based on an Android RCS client offered by Mountain View and the GSMA’s RCS specifications.
Mobile operators have been trying to push RCS for years, but got bogged down in seeking to agree standards for all the various features. According to Tech Crunch, their aim with the platform was to try evolving SMS with a new standard that included richer features, similar to ones baked into over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The maker of iPhones and iPads has also managed to deliver a widely adopted SMS alternative which is very usable and well used.
The Mountain View, California-based tech firm’s move is also a reminder of the complicated, thorny world in which Google’s mobile OS operates when it comes to security. That is mainly because of the system’s backbone. According to Re/code, many security experts have highlighted that the system’s privacy infrastructure is weaker than that of competitors with closed system, making it vulnerable to government access or malicious attacks. Lieberman Software CEO Philip Lieberman explained that connecting one carrier to another carrier would degrade the system to the “worst encryption of the pair.”
Google is set to offer global mobile operators with Android RCS client. The company wants to improve the SMS experience on Android by embracing RCS, though in an age of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it remains to be seen if the initiative will have much of an impact. Mountain View is however, partnering with mostly global wireless carrier to launch the service, which promises features such as high-res photo sharing, advanced calling, group chat and read receipts.
In many ways, Google’s initiative seems a little too late, given the traction that messaging platforms have achieved already. As reported by CDA News, Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently hit the one billion users milestone. The social networking giant’s own messaging app is also dancing close to that number.
Rich Communications Service is not by any means an Android-only initiative. Still, the search giant’s mobile OS represents over a billion users globally, and the company clearly states that other operating systems can also sign up and implement the service.
Google is partnering with a slew of international carriers to back a new uniform messaging system for Android phones. Messaging on Android will soon have several of the nifty features, such as, group chats, and rich photos and videos. The initiative is part of the Internet giant’s mobile strategy to keep users from flocking to Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, and Apple’s iMessage.
By Anila Maring