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Google's ninth attempt to use a news service is based on RCS

Enlarge / Google's "News" app.

It's time for the annual reorganization of Google's messaging strategy! The latest news comes to us about The Verge, which contains a great feature describing the Google Messaging Strategy 2019: the withdrawal of RCS from the operators. Google now wants to provide itself an RCS service (an upgrade to the obsolete SMS system) that will be launched in France and the UK later this month. RCS will be Google's ninth instant messaging platform after Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Buzz, Google+ Messenger, Hangouts, Spaces, Allo, and Hangouts Chat.

When Google Messaging was redeployed last year, the company killed Google Allo (AKA's Google Messaging Platform 201

6) and focused on Google Messages (the company's SMS client) to promote RCS. RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a planned upgrade of the operator's SMS service, and has been a Worldwide Mobile Network Trade Body (GSMA) standard for several years. The goal of RCS is to provide mobile operators with basic instant messaging capabilities, such as: For example, presence information, typing status, read receipts, and location sharing. Like a real chat app, RCS messages are sent over your data connection, and news, photos, and videos are all bigger.

Last year's plan (and every other plan involving RCS) was rolled out to the operators. Every single network operator on earth had to individually upgrade their SMS infrastructure to support RCS and the "Universal Profile". This is a federated system that enables RCS users to communicate with RCS users on T-Mobile through Verizon, for example. Due to the low financial incentive for such an upgrade, airlines have been slow to carry out the upgrade. And even if a carrier is RCS-enabled, carriers will certify RCS by phone.

Google's new plan foresees that Google will provide users with a new RCS service instead of leaving it to the carriers. In the Google Messages app, which is available on some (not all non-Samsung) Android devices, Google offers its own RCS-based messaging service that users can sign in to. Google announces once again that it will be offering its own RCS service in the UK and France for the first time this month. But Google initially focused on RCS in 2015 when it bought Jibe Mobile, a company that provides back-end RCS services to network operators. Instead of waiting for carriers to take over their back-end RCS service, Google will allegedly only offer it to consumers directly. The OEMs are happy, and this new RCS system was still developed in the spirit of the carrier. Google's goal here is not to replace or compete with the operator's RCS service, but only to fill in the gaps until the operators are ready with their own RCS version. If (or when) a network operator creates its own RCS system, Google will announce that it will hand over RCS control to that network operator. Google Messaging should work either with Google-provided or a mobile operator-provided RCS.

Same Google Allo Issues

There are a number of reasons why you do not want to run an RCS-based service Sounds like Google's call to use RCS means the new service has many of the disadvantages that has brought Google Allo to a standstill. While RCS messages are encrypted during transmission, they are not encrypted throughout, so your RCS provider (Google or your mobile service provider) can read your messages. Because RCS is a GSMA standard that replaces SMS, end-to-end encryption is not included in the specification. This puts the system at a disadvantage compared to most other popular Facebook services like iMessage and WhatsApp. Google was against standard encrypted messaging in Allo, but for RCS Google is not responsible for the specification.

In response to the encryption issue, a Google spokesman told The Verge: "We fundamentally believe that communication, especially messaging, is very personal and users have a right to privacy for their communication, and we are determined to find a solution for our users. "This statement does not promise Google to provide end-to-end encryption for RCS messages, but with only a degree of" privacy. " Again, RCS does not seem to support end-to-end encryption – something that would appear to be offered as a custom system in addition to the RCS standard for two users on the same client, much as iMessage works. Regarding data retention, Google The Verge has said that your messages will not be stored after delivery.

Like Allo, this new system would take the reverse approach of using a telephone number based identity system. Assuming this works like Allo and the existing implementation of Google Messages SMS, it means that you can connect to the service only through your smartphone, not through one of your other devices. There will not be a real desktop app for Google RCS, just a QR code-driven website for people who want to keep a browser tab open. An average US adult has about four connected devices, but in the RCS world of Google, only one (your smartphone) is capable of receiving messages.

The Smartphones Only request is a significant regression from Google Hangouts, which uses a cloud-based identity (your Google Account) to sign in from any device with an Internet connection. Hangouts offers apps for Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets, an always available Chrome app for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS, a website at hangouts.google.com, integration with Google Mail.com and even apps for smartwatches. iMessage works the same way and offers clients for every Apple device form factor. Telephone number based apps are far from being as good as a modern messaging system.

In addition to all the old allo problems, an RCS system run by Google virtually nullifies the purpose of RCS. RCS itself is a fairly simple messaging system, but its (theoretical) appeal came from the fact that the carriers did. Using RCS instead of existing SMS carrier systems meant that RCS is the standard, widely used messaging system that works on every phone. Again, that was the whole point of updating SMS. A carrier-run system would result in a wide, automatic takeover by many users, even if they did not know it.

A Google operated RCS system would be in addition to that operated by carriers on the phone. SMS. Telephoning would be just another option, with RCS ignoring the only real advantage (carrier defaultness). The messaging app for Google Messages used by this system is currently not available for the most popular Android phones – Samsung phones. RCS is also not an option for iPhones and it is unclear whether Apple would ever like to add support for an iMessage competitor to its platform.

Currently the service is only available in the UK and France. Google has not yet specified a timetable for the worldwide launch of the service.

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