Talk about being behind the times. Google is reportedly about to release an SMS Replacement called Chat.
Chat is an attempt to modernize SMS beyond simple text messaging.
It will have group texts, videos and images, typing indicators and read receipts. Chat isn’t an app, it’s part of the Android operating system replacing the current Messages icon.
Google is working with mobile phone carriers to make Chat a standard officially known as Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services (RCS).
We can understand why Google wants Chat. It’s a way to distinguish Android phones from Apple iPhones.
Mobile phone carriers want Chat/RCS because they’ve lost the enormous profit maker in SMS or text messaging. Messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal have undercut their massive SMS money maker.
The benefits of Chat/RCS for consumers are hard to find …
What’s lacking in Chat / RCS?
Chat/RCS is Android only. Maybe Google has some fanciful notion that Apple will adopt the RCS standard but you’d have to be incredibly optimistic to think that’s going to happen.
Carrier dependent and controlled. RCS may or may not be adopted by mobile phone carriers. If you switch carriers you might lose access to RCS.
No attachments – a messaging service without the ability to send attachments is pointless. WhatsApp and Signal both support attachments up to 100MB which is enough for most Office documents.
No encryption – given all the concern about privacy and government snooping, who would bother releasing a messaging standard without encryption? Apparently Google.
There’s no point in Google Chat/RCS. It doesn’t satisfy the current needs of the general public, let alone any future desires.
Signal and WhatsApp have both become extremely popular because they are independent of device, operating system or carrier. They let people send text, emoji, images and videos easily and without needing to know what type of phone the receiver has.
Other files, including Office documents can be sent quickly and securely.
Both apps have open-source encryption (WhatsApp now licences the Signal encryption technology) that can’t be read by nosy governments.
It’s the sort of ‘standard’ that Microsoft would try to fool the public with … then wonder why it wasn’t accepted. Strange to see Google trying Chat/RCS in the face of the 2018 communications reality.