- Google announced that it has partnered with popular brands to bring RCS communications directly to customers.
- Right now only certain Android users who meet specific qualifications will be able to get those messages.
- Google promises more RCS news for Android at Mobile World Congress 2018.
Two weeks ago, we talked about how Android users might finally be able to send text messages from their computers without having to use a third-party app. The hint of this possibility appeared in new code for Android Messages that points to RCS (rich communication standard) capabilities. Now, Google is giving businesses the ability to use RCS texting to communicate directly with customers.
You can read more about what RCS is and what is possible with the protocol here, but as far as businesses are concerned, it’s the ability to richly interact with consumers in ways that just aren’t possible with standard texting.
One of Google’s early partners with this new business program is Booking.com. With regular texting, Booking.com can send customers text and some hyperlinks, and that’s it. But with RCS messaging, Booking.com can send a photo, formatted text, and even buttons to add the customer’s booked trip to their calendar:
If you’re excited about what this means as far as RCS texting getting a broader rollout to all Android users, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Right now, Google only has a handful of companies on board for the business-to-consumer connections, and for the system to work correctly, users need to be on specific devices, using specific apps, on specific networks. If any one of those criteria isn’t met, the RCS message defaults back to a regular text message.
Google has been trying for years to get other companies on board for a universal standard that everyone adheres to so that RCS messaging can be used across all of Android. But getting that many factors to all line up has been a struggle, to say the least.
As it stands right now, for the select business partners Google is working with to communicate via RCS, the customers they are trying to connect to must be running an updated version of Android Messages as their default SMS app, and their devices must be on the Sprint network. And, of course, those people must be customers of 1-800-Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway, and opt-in to receive messages from those companies.
So, in other words, a relatively small number of people in the Android world.
Still, any expansion of RCS in Android is exciting, as it points to the death of the clunky and outdated SMS/MMS service we unfortunately still rely on.
In Google’s blog post on the matter, the company promises that RCS will have a presence at Mobile World Congress 2018, which officially begins on Monday.