Starting next year, Verizon will make Android Messages the default texting app on all its Android devices.
Verizon announced it’s joining the ranks of its competitors, AT&T and T-Mobile, in prioritizing Google’s Messages app app, which natively supports and implements Rich Communications Service, or RCS. The carrier is working with Google to offer Android users “a robust messaging experience that allows them to engage with loved ones, brands and businesses in new and innovative ways.”
Forget the brands. With this move, Verizon users won’t be susceptible to the bloated Message+ app, which is what the carrier has been preloading on its Android devices. We have an explicit roadmap from Verizon detailing how it will not only support RCS technology but actively work to implement it, too. RCS allows for messaging features like high-resolution photos and video, end-to-end encryption, accurate read receipts, and even message reactions—all things that iPhone users have been enjoying with one another for years.
Apple’s technically the last holdout in this journey to get a unified messaging standard across all platforms. Google seems to be doing a little cajoling to get Apple on board.
“Going forward, the default messaging experience on Android is going to be more secure,” Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS, and the Play Store, told The Verge. “The fallback messaging experience on the other platform will not have encryption if it’s still SMS. I think that that is a pretty interesting dynamic and I would hope that as everyone focuses on security and privacy it becomes an important part of the discussion.”
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There have been no confirmed discussions between Google and Apple regarding the implementation of RCS on iOS devices. But it would be nice to have Apple play along, particularly to benefit the current 473 million global RCS users, a number which is likely to increase once more U.S. users get on board. Analysts expect the number of users to shoot up to the billions in the next five years.
Although the Play Store offers a bevy of SMS apps, the native solution from Google has been in constant flux. With Allo haunting the Google graveyard and Hangouts soon evolving into its final form as Google Chat (hopefully), it’s about time that Google settled on how it will handle text messaging. This cross-platform solution relies on RCS infrastructure to work, so it was crucial to get all major carriers on board.
Verizon Message+, or Verizon Messages, will stick around, because it’s one of the ways subscribers have been backing up text messages in the cloud. Verizon said that the app would receive “full access to RCS capabilities” by the end of the year, which bodes well for the overall rollout.