Standard text messaging through mobile carriers doesn’t exactly provide you with a ton of unique and helpful features. Group messaging through SMS is a joke, and there’s no way to see when the other person you’re chatting with has read your message or not. That’s why third-party messaging services are so popular. WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, iMessage and Facebook Messenger can do all these things and more, which is why Google, among a large number of other companies, have committed to a new standard called Rich Communications Services (RCS) that allows them to employ these features. With a wider adoption of the RCS standard, carriers and other companies alike will be able to roll out richer features to SMS.
Back in September Google announced that it would acquire Jibe Mobile, a company that’s been a leader in the RCS standard for years, and now we’re just starting to see the fruits of that acquisition. Google and a number of other telecoms today announced that they are ‘aligning’ on a universal RCS profile that will hopefully help drive the adoption of the new standard. Google, with the help of its partners, will provide a globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices. The 19 telecoms listed in the press release that have agreed to this universal profile include Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile’s parent company), Orange, Sprint, Vodafone and many others, while both Verizon and AT&T are missing from the list. “[The] operators have agreed to transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with operators and OEMs,” the release reads.
This is of course great news for Android owners, as this now means the arrival of a more feature-rich texting platform is imminent. The Android client will be able to provide a consistent experience between all Android devices and all operators worldwide, and will be easily updatable through the Google Play Store. Google promises group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, read receipts and more will be part of the operator messaging experience. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be available in the future from the Google. Google also plans on providing an open source version of the client based on the universal profile spec, and will also give developer APIs to help enhance the RCS client experience.
The Android client can be updated through the Google Play Store
Mobile operators will also be able to deploy their own infrastructure or have the option “to use the Jibe Platform from Google, which supports the universal RCS profile.” The press release adds:
The Jibe Platform includes a hosted cloud for individual operators to launch RCS services for all leading mobile operating systems and the Jibe Hub to interconnect operator RCS networks.
There’s no mention as to when we’ll be able to see a full rollout of Google’s RCS messaging platform for Android devices, but there’s already a Google Jibe website that explains a little more about Google’s initiative. It’s been rumored that Android N, the next major version of Google’s OS, could feature the debut of the messaging service, though we won’t know for sure until Google announces it in the coming months.