Google‘s answer to giving Android users a chat service on the level of Apple‘s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp is on the way. The tech giant has decided to give up on making a better app and instead change the way you text each other completely with a new service simply called Chat.
Google has been working with phone carriers on the low to adopt the new technology in hopes of getting the service off the ground and get it to users on a global scale. Chat is based on and will use a standard called “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.”(RCS), Google hopes that their new technology will replace as SMS as the default that everyone has to rely on.
The company revealed to The Verge that in trying to make Chat a reality it is pausing all work on their current messenger app Allo. The move, in essence, is a strategic retreat for the company. Once live users will be able to send high-quality images, videos, GIFS, get read receipts, see when the person they are texting is typing a reply. Basically, all of the features that iMessage and other Chat Apps allow. Another added bonus is that Google Assistant will also be enabled through Chat.
Chat messages will be sent over the internet and like SMSM is designed to work over different carrier networks. Now if you send a Chat message to someone whose phone is not Chat-compatible it will be sent as an SMS message. Very similar to when iPhone users text non-iPhone users.
Now there are some setbacks that will come with Chat and it mainly focuses on privacy. Chat will not be end-to-end encrypted which means that your messages can be seen by anyone. The service will be controlled by carriers whom also work hand in hand with the government. This might turn some users off especially with all the news about data theft and collection being a major concern.
No word on whether Apple will be allowing their phones to use Chat but we won’t hold our breath on that. The new standard for messaging has already been enabled by Sprint and with T-Mobile following them later this year. Verizon has not got on board and AT&T has not commented on whether or not they’re on board. A London-based global cellular industry group called GSMA estimates 350 million will upgrade to RCS by the end of the year. They also predict that number will double in 2019 and 3 billion people could potentially upgrade to the new service.
Looks like change is coming whether Android users like it or not.
Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty