In this news, we discuss the Google’s iMessage-like RCS-texting service now rolling out to everyone.
Google is now completing the global rollout of its rich communication services, commonly known as RCS, in the Messages app on Android phones. The first effort to expand the version came around mid-2019, when Google announced that it will need to support a large number of carriers for the global rollout. RCS-based communication is similar to iMessage, supporting features like typing indicator, read receipts, real-time media sharing, group messaging, and more. In addition to these features, the Messages app now tests end-to-end encryption for improved privacy.
To give you an explanation, the Messages app on your Android phone has so far supported text messages, pictorial emojis, and read receipts for operators that allow it. Of course, you have the multimedia messaging service, also known as MMS, but which is extremely limited and not common among users. MMS is also billable between carriers, which is why customers have refrained from using it to share media and other interactive content. Their woes ended when dedicated apps like WhatsApp entered the scene, allowing them to share anything freely on the internet for free. The only money customers had to spend was on the Internet package.
What is Rich Communication Services, or RCS?
Rich Communication Services was designed by Google to dramatically improve native messaging on Android phones, by revamping the Messages app to support the features available on Apple’s instant messaging apps and iMessage. But since these services had to be built from the ground up, operators had to support such formats that could be transferred over their networks. Indeed, all the data will need the cellular network to reach the other user, in a system based on IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem).
This method is similar to how calls work on different networks, but when it comes to messaging, it did not use the full potential of cellular networks. The full potential encompasses a data exchange system dedicated to applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Facebook Messenger works for communication.
All of the things WhatsApp lets you do form the basis of RCS’s goal and the efforts behind it have been led by Google. RCS is supported by a group of telecommunications companies and endorsed by the GSM Association, the group that hosts the Mobile World Congress each year.
How is Google involved?
Google has ensured that telecom companies indulge in RCS’s success despite the concerns these carriers initially expressed about the technology barriers they have and the technology they will need to acquire. Now that Google has worked with a large chunk of carriers to understand RCS and implement it for their networks across spectra and regions, the tech company is moving forward with the global rollout.
And now Google is trying to allay the concerns that privacy advocates have long favored. The tech company introduces end-to-end encryption for messages so that information shared between end users remains private throughout the exchange process. Even Google or the telecommunications company that provides RCS on your phone won’t be able to intercept any content shared between two individual users, thanks to E2E encryption.
How will end-to-end encryption work?
Google will soon start testing E2EE on messages. In an article, the company explained how end-to-end encryption will work. This will be for one-on-one conversations in Messages. To guarantee E2EE, Google uses the Signal protocol.
For E2EE to work, both individual users must have the latest beta version of Messages and enable Chat over Data or Wi-Fi in the Messages app. When the connection is established successfully, E2EE will become active. There will be a lock sign next to the text that reads “Conversation with XYZ”. The encryption standard cannot be disabled manually but in case there is a barrier in the communication channel, it will be temporarily disabled.
The default behavior for messages here will be to keep messages until end-to-end encryption is returned, but in case the sender wants the message to reach the recipient instantly, they can choose to send these messages as SMS, in which case E2EE will do so. not be supported. It is also not supported for MMS due to the security standards followed by this encryption protocol. But E2EE will work on devices and interfaces, including messages on the web that can be opened in an internet browser.
What do you need to do?
Well, nothing. I will suggest you to wait for RCS to appear on your Android phone, after which you can chat with other RCS users freely through internet connection without paying any additional fees. I’m not sure if your carrier will support all the features available in RCS, but you will surely get some of them, at least at first.
For end-to-end encryption, you can try using the beta version of the Messages app, but I suggest you wait until this feature is available in the Messages app in the stable channel.
Google has started rolling out RCS to everyone around the world and has started testing end-to-end encryption in the Messages app.
- Google is now rolling out RCS in the Messages app around the world.
- The Messages app will also soon benefit from end-to-end encryption.
- RCS will provide support for media sharing, group chats and location sharing.