Google partners with Sprint for RCS messaging, plans more partnerships in future

The SMS text-messaging experience hasn’t changed much in more than 20 years. But that will change for Sprint subscribers on Android devices starting today thanks to a new update to Google‘s Messenger app. In a blog post on Friday, Google has officially announced that they’re partnering up carriers to advance the nature of SMS, and essentially upgrade the functionality of text messages.

If you’re a user of Google’s Messenger app this might sound a little familiar because the update to Messenger started rolling out recently and enhanced messaging (RCS) was one of the feature changes that was included in the update.


RCS or Rich Communication Service is basically the standard for the next generation of SMS text messaging. It adds new features to simple text messaging, such as seeing when someone is typing back a response to your message and getting notifications when someone has seen a message. It also includes improved functions on group texts, which allow people to be added and deleted from group chats.

And because RCS works over the internet, it also frees people from the constraints of simple SMS, allowing longer messages and high-resolution photos to be sent. For consumers who gain access to the new messaging experience, they’ll be able to take advantage of features that rival Apple’s iMessage or other third-party messaging apps. For example, though MMS today supports group messaging, you can’t do some of the things people now expect – like naming the group, adding new members, or leaving an existing group. That will change with RCS.

In February Google announced it would work with more than 56 wireless carriers around the world to integrate the standard developed by carriers through the GSM Association into its Messenger app.

Although some US carriers have already launched their own Advanced Messenger, through their own stock SMS clients that come on phones, none of them work with each other, which is what makes Google’s partnership with the carriers kind of a big deal, as it’s set to be a standard that will work across all carriers. Sprint is the first network to partner with Google to upgrade its SMS experience using the Messenger app for Android and powering the back-end with Google’s Jibe RCS cloud platform. Jibe is an important step on the road towards creating a ubiquitous RCS platform that works across all devices and networks.


As part of the arrangement, select LG and Nexus phone owners already with Sprint will see their default SMS app switch over to Messenger through an app update. Of course, these features we are all already familiar with from chat apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Hike and others but this brings those features to the simple text messages.

“The beauty of SMS is that more than 4 billion people throughout the world use it,” said Amir Sarhangi, head of RCS at Google. “It’s ubiquitous and it’s already embedded in your phone.”

Messenger is free, so it won’t set customers back any monetary cost if they switch from the stock SMS app they currently use on their phone. When it comes to new devices in the future, Google and Sprint’s partnership will see all new Android devices comes with Messenger preinstalled as the default SMS app, which means that subscribers will have RCS messaging functionality right from the start when they activate or upgrade to a new smartphone.

What do you think of Google’s bet on Messenger? I can’t help but wonder if instead of creating Allo, Google should have just worked on RCS and brought the Assistant into Messenger.

Source : Google – The Keyword


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