Google has a plan to replace the aging SMS system with a more streamlined system. ‘Chat’ as it is being called, it not necessarily a Google product. Rather it is something being developed by Mountain View, but being placed in control over telcos.
Chat is based on the Rich Communications Services standard, which has been in the works with telecommunications companies for some number of years. This was originally mean to replace the SMS and MMS system that was technically a hack of the existing infrastructure at the time.
However, no single standard was ever achieved; seeing that each company was interested in pushing RCS is its own direction.
What Google has done is not so much invent a new service, but rather get multiple companies to agree to use the same system. More importantly, RCS will be automatically enabled within the Android Messaging app; which currently handles SMS instead.
Doing this gives the company a product that is directly capable of handling the same functions as Apple’s iMessage.
It should be noted that Google itself will not be managing Chat. That will be left to the telecommunications industry. Which means that it won’t have end-to-end encryption, and will be open to the same legal rules as SMS. Telcos are usually more willing to share user information with governments. Something that may be of concern to privacy advocates.
Google appears to throwing its consumer messaging efforts behind Chat. The company currently runs four separate instant messaging systems (Hangouts, Duo, Allo, and Android Messages) and is reorganising how it separates the lot. For starters, Hangouts is being converted into an enterprise service. Meant to compete against the likes of Slack.
At the same time, it’s halting development of Allo; a service that has only been around for about a year. Duo is similarly forgotten at this point.
This leaves Android Messenger as the sole consumer messaging platform left for Google. Which it hopes will be able to take advantage of the industry partnerships to challenge over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram. RCS uses existing data connections, meaning that it should be able to offer the same features as the competition.
Thus far, Google has recruited 55 telcos from around the world and has 11 OEMs on board to deploy Chat. That said, there is no saying when it will be rolled out. Getting this many companies across several continents to work together is a Herculean task, and it’s impressive that Google has even made it this far.
[Source: The Verge]