After spotting Rich Communications Services (RCS) support appear in Google Messenger 2.0 earlier, Google has now made an official statement about the role it will be playing in upgrading the old SMS format over the next few months. The company has announced that US carrier Sprint will be the first carrier to partner with Google to bring the universal RCS profile to Android customers, starting from today.
Although some US carriers have already launched their own Advanced Messenger services, Sprint is the first network to partner with Google to upgrade its SMS experience using the Messenger app for Android and powering the back-end with Google’s Jibe RCS cloud platform. Jibe is an important step on the road towards creating a ubiquitous RCS platform that works across all devices and networks.
As part of the arrangement, select LG and Nexus phone owners already with Sprint will see their default SMS app switch over to Messenger through an app update. Of course, Messenger is already available to download on any Android device, but RCS will only work on supported handsets and networks. From next year Android devices sold through Sprint will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging experience. This is part of the GSMA’s road towards the Universal Profile that will see support for a single standardized version of RCS increase across new handsets to help drive adoption.
In case you missed the news, RCS is designed to improve the old SMS and MMS standards that are used by default messaging apps. It aims to offer up features that will feel familiar to data-based chat users, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, out of the box across all future Android devices. New features include group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and many more.
This announcement is just the start of a push to make RCS the new default messaging service across the Android ecosystem. RCS support is set for a rapid expansion next year as additional carriers roll out their Universal Profile devices and networks in a similar arrangement to Sprint. GSMA is set to outline the standard in further detail on November 17th and a broader rollout is expected come Q2 2017.