Google’s default SMS/MMS app, Messenger, has been renamed Android Messages. The name change has just rolled out in the Play Store and arrives as Google prepares for wider adoption of the new Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging standard.
RCS will provide businesses with better ways to brand their communications with consumers, with higher quality multimedia messages and custom sender icons. Though it’s possible to make use of RCS right now, with certain devices (like the Pixel) and on certain networks (like Sprint), there’s no single standard version of RCS yet.
Ahead of this being finalized, Google has reportedly been making deals with carriers to preload Android Messages onto their devices with the implications of RCS in mind. Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Vodafone are said to be involved, as are Rogers and Telenor.
Google will also be putting Android Messages onto more phones: Google Messenger was previously installed on devices like the Pixel, Android One and Nexus devices.
Regarding the name change, Amir Sarhangi, Head of RCS at Google, told The Verge that it was due to Messenger “becoming more like Android itself” — meaning operated by Google but with stakeholder involvement (that just sounds like any large business to me but hey ho).
Though it has already been rebranded once (from Messages), the new name makes sense for other reasons: one, the same name is used by Facebook for its messaging app — and when someone mentions Messenger, most likely think “Facebook” rather than “Google” — and two, Google’s Messenger hadn’t really struck the same chord as services like WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage: it doesn’t have much to lose with the rebrand.
For everything you need to know about RCS, hit the link, and download Google Messages from the button below.