As if Google’s messaging strategy couldn’t get any more confusing, the search giant this week said its default SMS app for Android, which is known simply as “Messenger,” will instead be called “Android Messages” going forward.
The move is part of an announcement related to the company’s adoption of Rich Communication Services (RCS), the next-generation messaging standard that’s meant to replace SMS; RCS provides a richer experience on a part with services such as WhatsApp.
Several Android manufacturers have agreed to offer Android Messages as their stock messaging app, including Motorola, Sony, LG, HTC, ZTA, Nokia, and LeEco, among others. Google’s Pixel devices will also offer Android Messages as the stock messaging app.
Additionally, Google said a number of carriers agreed to adopt the new system, such as Sprint, Rogers, Telenor, Orange, and Vodafone.
Unfortunately, some big names are currently missing from the list of official supporters. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile haven’t (yet) opted to adopt RCS, while Samsung and Apple aren’t included either.
Folks using the RCS standard can still communicate with users on SMS and MMS, it just won’t be as feature-rich. Google told The Verge it’s hoping other companies will eventually adopt the RCS standard and therefore start offering Android Messages—and that includes Apple.
The future isn’t here yet
Although RCS is much more robust compared to SMS and MMS, it’ll take a while to be widely adopted by users. And when it does happen, chances are most users will be moved over to WhatsApp and similar services anyway. At least we know something better is on the way.
Google’s support for RCS still doesn’t clear up why the company is competing with three different messaging applications. But I suppose variety is the spice of life.