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Google is ready to battle iMessage, creates Chat and retires Allo

by Justin Herrick | April 20, 2018April 20, 2018 7:00 am PST

We now know Google’s plan for messaging. This time, it’s all about relying on others. The company won’t create an over-the-top solution that leverages Google accounts. Instead, Google would like for its partners to adopt a single standard that works around the world. But it doesn’t mean Google has to reset and create an entirely new service. The plan calls for one app to live, and another to go away.

Android Messages will be the premier app for texting on the platform while Allo, the artificial intelligence-based service, is set to be retired. With Allo failing to gain traction in its first two years, the company believes Android Messages is the better product to embrace. It also ships as the sole messaging app on many devices.

The announcement comes as an exclusive from The Verge, which was told everything by Google in full detail.

You’ll hear a lot about Chat in the coming weeks and months. Maybe that sounds like another service, but it’s merely Google’s name for the implementation of Rich Communication Services (RCS). Its new standard enables enhanced features like read receipts, a real-time typing indicator, full-resolution files, and grouping. Google, though, needs hardware manufacturers and carriers to join together to make Chat work the majority of Android devices.

Google has a significant amount of support already. More than sixty partners have adopted the new standard, so the next challenge is getting them to roll out Chat. In the United States, Sprint has Chat up and running while T-Mobile expects to do so by June. Verizon and AT&T are signed on, but they haven’t said anything about a roll-out.

Regions like Europe and Latin America will get Chat in the near future, followed by the U.S. and the rest of North America. Google thinks the expansion will be in a healthy position by the end of the year. In 2019, Google projects to have Android Messages and Chat activated on a large percentage of devices.

Third-party apps from the Play Store might not be able to add Chat support; however, companies like Samsung can have it built-in for their apps. It looks like that, if you’re an official partner, you can use the RCS-based standard for yourself rather than Android Messages.

There’s probably no feature that will be as appreciated as cross-device texting. Finally, Google will let you send and receive messages whether you’re on a phone or computer. Android Messages will soon have an online hub you can access using a web browser, with messages synced between the devices.

As you know by our reporting, making Android Messages similar to Apple’s iMessage has been in the works for quite some time. The Pixel 2 launched with a hidden app called SMS Connect that would sync messages between your phone and a Chromebook. That seemingly got funneled into the latest idea, which has Android Messages taking on new responsibilities. Prior to this official announcement, Google was spotted working on enhanced features for Android Messages.

Google did make it clear that Allo won’t be killed immediately, though. The service that launched alongside Google Assistant in 2016 will continue to run but without any additional resources committed. Once momentum gains for Android Messages, it’ll likely be shut down.

It’s not a firm number, but the company estimates Android Messages has around 100 million monthly active users.

Everyone will view the Chat-infused Android Messages as a rival to iMessage by the time it has all the new features live, but Google is quick to add the standard is meant to be open. The company hopes Apple will consider adding Chat support to iOS one day, there’s some speculation discussions are ongoing.

The Verge

Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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