RCS has long been described as “Google’s answer to iMessage.” That may or may not be true, but the fact is Android fans have put a lot of faith in this technology. Google has too, of course, as they’ve consistently tried to push it forward. One big hurdle they have faced is carriers, especially in the US. Now, all four major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) have joined forces on something called the “Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative.”
The “Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative” (CCMI) is designed to make sure that carriers move forward together to replace SMS with a next-generation standard. That is exactly what RCS is supposed to do, but carriers have dragged their feet to support it. So how is the CCMI going to replace SMS? RCS is the answer, but maybe not in the way you would think.
The CCMI will release a new messaging app for Android phones next year. Yes, another messaging app. This app will most likely be the new default messaging app on Android devices sold by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. The app will have all the RCS goodies you’d expect, such as typing indicators, high-resolution photos/videos, and improved group chat. And most importantly, it will be compatible with the global Universal Profile standard for RCS that has already been supported by carriers throughout the world.
Here’s where things get interesting. Doug Garland, general manager for the CCMI, says they will work with companies (such as Samsung and Google) to make sure their apps are interoperable. This means people who use Google’s Messages app will be able to use that instead. Google, however, was not mentioned in the press release, which may be a telling sign.
The CCMI seems to solve a lot of problems with the rollout of RCS in the US. It may not be the most elegant solution, but it is a step in the right direction. We’re not sure why the answer to every Android messaging problem seems to be releasing a brand new app. Carrier apps are notoriously bad and not very popular, but the mention of being able to use other apps instead is a good sign. All of this should go into motion next year. We’ll be anxiously waiting.
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