Android messaging has long lagged behind iOS, where Apple Messages has included features absent from standard SMS texts. According to a CNET report, Google is rolling out a major upgrade in the U.S. starting today.
Rich Communication Services (RCS), is an improved form of text messaging that has many of the chat-style features found in iOS, as well as apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and others.
The new features will include:
– Ability to send high quality photos and videos
– Read receipts
– Typing indicators
– Group chat management (naming a group, adding and removing people)
– Chat over WiFi
The one feature that RCS does not have is end-to-end encryption, unlike iOS Messages, WhatsApp, Signal or Facebook Messenger. When asked about its absence, Sanaz Ahari, director of product management for Google’s communications services, described it as a “fairly complicated topic.”
As CNET points out, there are other privacy concerns as well. RCS messages will be routed through Google’s servers, meaning, it could theoretically be subpoenaed to provide messages to authorities. However, Drew Rowny, Google’s product lead for Messages, “said Google deletes messages from its servers as soon as they’re sent, so it’s less likely it would have the data to hand over.”
Whatever its limitations, RCS messages will be a welcome improvement for Android users.