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Google Messages RCS works in India; promises next-gen messaging alternative to SMS, WhatsApp

RCS builds on SMS to offer advanced features such as typing indicators, file transfer, and more. This makes it somewhat closer to what we get on WhatsApp but without the need for a third-party Facebook-owned app.

  • Published: October 28, 2019 9:36 PM IST
Google Messages RCS Messaging

Google has long been working on Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol that is meant to replace the aging SMS. SMS as a protocol has been around since the early days of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM). For context, the first SMS message was sent back in 1992. This makes the protocol about 27 years old. Moving to RCS, it builds on SMS to offer advanced features such as typing indicators, file transfer, and more. This makes it somewhat closer to what we get on WhatsApp but without the need for a third-party Facebook-owned app. To understand Google Messages RCS, let’s focus on the development of RCS.

Google Messages RCS protocol details

Digging to retrace the development of RCS, a number of industry promoters started developing this protocol back in 2007. Later, GSMA released a Universal Profile for RCS in 2016. After the launch, 47 mobile operators, 11 smartphone makers, and two operating system makers have pledged to support RCS. Google has been working on this protocol ever since to create its “Jibe Cloud” platform to implement RCS Universal Profile. However, RCS adoption has been extremely slow because of the cellular carriers. The delay is likely because it will cut into the SMS revenue.

Google Messages RCS Messaging 2

Talking about Google and its work to develop and implement RCS, it has baked RCS support in its “Messages” app. The interesting part about this, it does not count against the traditional SMS message limit. Instead, it works on mobile data or Wi-Fi. To combat the delay, Google announced that it will roll out RCS support as an opt-in service through the “Messages” app.

Google clarified that it will host this opt-in service instead of waiting for the carriers. A new report has highlighted that any Android smartphone user on any telecom operator can now opt-in for RCS. The company seems to have started internal testing in the beta version of its “Messages” app.

We at BGR India followed the steps to enable RCS messaging on Google Messages version 5.2.050. All the features of RCS including typing indicator, file transfer, image, GIF, or emoji transfer work without much hiccups. We were successful in enabling the service on Reliance Jio, Bharati Airtel, and Vodafone Idea. In addition, the group RCS messaging features also seem to work flawlessly.

  • Published Date: October 28, 2019 9:36 PM IST