Google has started rolling out rcs, the successor to SMS. The company is starting with this in the United Kingdom and France, but later the feature should also be available in other countries for all Android devices.
The rollout of rich communication services has always been difficult, because software makers depended on providers for the rollout. They’ve been slow to do that so far. Google now wants to roll out the service itself for Android. In any case, that process will be opt-in for the time being. Users of the standard messaging app will see a notification when they open it, allowing them to upgrade to ‘RCS Chat’. As soon as they send a message to another phone, it is first checked whether it supports rcs. If not, the message will be sent as a regular SMS.
Google no longer wants to wait for providers to roll out rcs. That means that messages will be sent through Google’s servers for the time being. Google says those messages will be immediately removed as soon as they arrive. The messages are encrypted in transit, but are not end-to-end encrypted.
RCS has long been seen as the successor to SMS. Not only is it possible to send messages, but it also has all kinds of techniques that are now the norm for chat apps, such as sending photos, videos and read receipts.