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A while ago, Apple introduced iMessage, an ultimate way to text. Google, being their main competitor, had to make some changes to the game in order to catch up and what better way to do it than introduce RCS.
Unfortunately, the newly introduced service is officially available in a couple of countries only, namely the USA, the UK, Mexico, and France. Willing to bring all the features to everyone, Android power users found a workaround but Google is threatening to shut it down. Should we fear?
What is RCS?
Before we get into why people are even trying to get this new experience up and running, we’ve got to learn about RCS and what it is all about. SMS – the main method of message transfer is nothing too incredible. It doesn’t support animated stickers, it relies completely on cellular connection, and it stops us upon reaching 160 characters.
Companies depend a lot on their users, so they eventually had to develop a way to bypass these limitations. The final product is RCS (“Rich Communication Services”) protocol, which enables a whole lot of interesting features, including group chat, custom emojis, images, video, audio and much more!
The best part about RCS is it does not require any specific brands or phones to work on. Pretty much anything you’ve already got is guaranteed to work (obviously if your carrier supports it).
There is one problem though. RCS is not as simple as it may sounds. Firstly, it requires an application that supports it and as of now only Samsung Messages and Google Messages are supported. Although this may sound limiting, it really isn’t as most manufacturers ship their phones with one of these two apps preinstalled.
The other, more critical requirement is the carrier support, which is not too widely spread. Most countries actually don’t have any carriers that support this form of messaging.
Last but not least both the sender and the recipient need to have RCS enabled. So, what happens in case one of them doesn’t have it enabled? It’s pretty simple actually, the RCS message is reverted to the regular SMS one and the whole story ends there.
Ant there are a few flaws besides that as well, encryption being one of them. RCS messages are not end- to-end encrypted. This means provider does have access to the messages, which may not be the securest way of handling sensitive information.
Another problem, compared to the Apple iMessage service, is that there is no multiple device support. It still depends on your phone and phone number, just like the traditional texting does. This means no reading messages on your tablet or computer, just your primary phone.
To wrap the things up, RCS is Apple iMessage, but on Android. RCS is nothing revolutionary, especially if you are coming from Apple’s ecosystem. Apple already has what RCS is trying to create, but that means a huge step forward for Android. After all, one reason less to favorize either platform!
What went wrong?
As we’ve mentioned earlier in the text, RCS is supported in four countries only. Android users tried to implement RCS and found a working hack to get it running on each and every smartphone simply using Google Messages. Earlier, Google announced they would be migrating everyone using the hack to the actual RCS, but things changed a bit.
Instead of spreading RCS all over the world, Google decided to cancel the plan and as the latest sources suggest, RCS is going away. Google announced they would patch the hack by the end of February, so it turns out most of us will have to wait. Yes, it is true that Google stated they are in the process of bringing everyone to this new technology, but we haven’t seen any updates on it lately.