- Google and Samsung expanded their partnership to make the latest mobile messaging technology available on more smartphones that run on the Android operating system, according to a press release. The collaboration means that Samsung Messages and Android Messages will work together seamlessly and with rich communications services (RCS), which features WiFi chat, group chats, typing indicators, read receipts and high-resolution photos and videos.
- Brands and developers that create RCS Business Messaging experiences with Google or Samsung's Messaging-as-a-Platform (MaaP) services can possibly widen their potential audiences by reaching both Android Messages and Samsung Messages users, per the release.
- The two tech giants already have worked to bring RCS to some Samsung devices, though the expanded collaboration means that Samsung will add the features to phones starting with the Galaxy S8, S8+. New Samsung smartphones will natively support RCS messaging.
Google and Samsung's expanded partnership is another step toward making the patchwork of Android messaging systems more seamless, a daunting task because of the varying capabilities of mobile carriers and the vast number of Android devices worldwide. The fragmented market has meant that many Android phones have had to rely on older technologies, such as the short messaging service (SMS) that's limited to text transmissions, to communicate with other devices. Meanwhile, popular third-party apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have come along to provide more advanced multimedia messaging features through their proprietary platforms. Google has pushed to get more carriers to adopt the RCS standard, while pausing work on its Allo messaging platform, TechCrunch reported. Now, it appears that Google and Samsung are working to get in on the RCS action and nab some of the growth in the space.
RCS offers the media-rich features that are familiar to users of Apple's iMessage, including typing indicators, read receipts and high-resolution photos and videos. RCS isn't compatible with Apple's technology, though, which means that communications between iPhones and Android devices are still limited to SMS. It's not clear whether Apple will support the RCS standard. The company may be compelled to accept RCS if the technology becomes as popular as some analysts expect. The GSM Association forecast that 86% of smartphones will be RCS-enabled by 2020. European carriers have been responsible for much of the technology's growth and adoption, but its global potential is significant with 430 million monthly users expected to use RCS this year — a figure that's set to surge to 2.76 billion in 2019.
Businesses are gradually adding RCS messaging features to their customer service and marketing platforms. The Sacramento Kings basketball team this week partnered with Zipwhip to offer fans an RCS messaging service on its toll-free business phone number. In addition, U.K. transportation company Virgin Trains last week partnered with carrier Vodafone and mobile messaging firm OpenMarket to introduce RCS as a communication channel and to improve customer service.