Google Begins Rollout Of Chat – Android Rival To iMessage

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Google bypasses carriers and will begin deploying iMessage rival for Android users in the UK and France

Google has lost patience with the politics of mobile operators around the world after it was reported that it will begin to deploy its ‘Chat’ app, that will be based on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard.

Google first unveiled the Chat app in April 2018, and it is intended to be a rival to Apple’s iMessage service, and a replacement for the humble SMS and indeed the MMS messaging services.

Unlike SMS and MMS, Chat will allow for read receipts, as well as the sharing of higher quality attachments (photos etc), and users will also be able to see when their contacts are typing.

No encryption

According to the Verge, Android users in the UK and France will later this month be able to opt in to RCS Chat services provided directly by Google, instead of waiting for their carrier to support it.

The idea is to make this service universally available for all Android users in all countries.

However there will be a major drawback to the Chat app, that users will need to carefully consider. Essentially, unlike iMessage, WhatsApp or Telegram, Chat will not be end-to-end encrypted.

But Google has apparently pledged to deliver this encryption going forward.

“We fundamentally believe that communication, especially messaging, is highly personal and users have a right to privacy for their communications,” Sanaz Ahari, product management director overseeing Android Messages told the Verge. “And we’re fully committed to finding a solution for our users.”

Google has apparently opted to rollout this option to Android users after it lost patience with mobile operators around the world.

It has apparently spend the past year trying to quietly corral every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting the technology to replace SMS.

But this proved an almost impossible task due to “complicated carrier and phone maker politics.” Google was left with little choice but to take over.

Data consumption

It should be noted that users will need to opt-in to the Chat app, as it is technically still a carrier-based service, it will consume a person’s data plan, and not their SMS entitlement.

Chat will join a number of messaging apps that Google has played around with over the past few years.

This includes Hangouts (previously Google Talk); Allo (development is currently paused), Duo (video calling app), and Google Messenger (SMS and MMS app).

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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