Google has started the delivery of its next-generation messaging, Rich Communication Services. Android users in France and the UK will be first to experience RCS chat.

RCS has been around for several years already and it was only recently that Google finally decided to go ahead with the service without waiting for local carriers to carry out the new messaging system.

"We'd love work with our US carrier partners on RCS. Trying!!!! PS: RCS now fully rolled out in UK and FR. Next wave of countries soon," tweeted Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google senior vice president, as he announced the services' rollout.

Replacement For SMS

RCS is the next-generation texting protocol agreed by most messaging carriers around the world should eventually replace short messaging service or text messages.

The GSM Association, the governing body of mobile networks worldwide, has created a universal profile that helps set rules to enable RCS for consumers. Some 55 networks, 11 phone makers, and two operating system providers have agreed to support RCS. Any of the parties, carriers, OEMs, or OS providers can enable RCS services.

Main Features Of RCS

The RCS or Chat as referred to by Google's Android Messages app offers a majority of the features of a modern messaging app. Some of its notable features include the read-receipts capability, high-quality attachments, group messaging, and live typing indicators.

RCS also enables users to send long texts without a character limit. It also allows sending of content and sharing of live location. It supports IP-based video and voice calling and network-based blacklisting as well.

It will eventually replace SMS and MMS and will operate completely within a phone's standard texting app. This new messaging system described as "SMS on steriods" aims to rival iPhone's iMessage.

However, unlike other similar internet-based messaging apps like Whatsapp and Signal, RCS lacks end-to-end encryption. Google said it is fully committed to finding a solution regarding the encryption feature.

Downside Of This New Messaging System

The rollout will take place country-by-country, so there’s no official schedule yet for when Google will make the service available for most Android users worldwide.

Since Google went ahead and cut out the carriers to make the RCS Chat work at the app level, it could also render the RCS Chat unusable. Each user in a conversation needs to have a phone that supports the standard for it to work, otherwise, SMS will remain as the default messaging app.

With regard to privacy and security concerns, the lack of end-to-end encryption remains a crucial issue. Lastly, users won't be able to start taking advantage of the RCS Chat until the local wireless carrier has activated the feature.

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