Google just came out with a couple of announcements outlining its plans for this year’s Mobile World Congress. One of them was dedicated to RCS, an acronym you may have spotted in plenty of tech stories recently, especially the ones related to instant messaging.
RCS is short for Rich Communication Services, which is Google’s way of describing better SMS texting than anything you’ve experienced so far. RCS is the equivalent of having a WhatsApp-style experience, complete with rich content and true emoji, inside the standard SMS app on your phone.
SMS feel obsolete compared to iMessage, Allo, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and whatever else you want to list. These instant messengers allow users to do plenty of things on top of simply exchanging text messages. Support for file sharing, voice and video calls, stickers and game experiences are all possible inside mobile chat apps. SMS sucks by comparison.
That’s where Google’s RCS, which aims to become a new SMS chat standard, steps in.
Unfortunately, there might also a downside to this whole endeavor. Companies might be able to spam your phone with richer messages than before, though Google says customers need to opt-in to get this upgraded messaging experiences. Will there be ads inside these experiences? That we don’t know.
Google says that companies in food, travel, retail, and delivery services in the US and Mexico “are starting to have better conversations with their customers using RCS,” as part of the Early Access Program.
“This means, for example, that a retailer can send beautiful images of their products, rather than a text message, and even let the customer select and buy something, all without leaving the messaging app,” Google explains.
At MWC 2018, Google will unveil new RCS experiences, as Google plans to bring RCS messaging to businesses to more regions of the world.
As a result, you’ll see Android Messages preloaded on many devices that are about to launch this year, and Google has a handy list of carriers and OEMs at this link, and Android Messages will be set as the default messaging app on these devices.
Does that mean you’ll be able to chat via RCS with your friends? If RCS catches on, it might just kill SMS texting in the future. For the time being, it’s only meant to improve your texting experiences to businesses. And let’s not forget that if Google really wants RCS to become the new SMS, it has to also convince its biggest rival, Apple, to do so on the iPhone.