Verizon will be working with Google to bring the Rich Communications Service (RCS) standard to Android users in the US starting next year, joining T-Mobile and AT&T which both announced the switch earlier this year.
Verizon announced the collaboration with Google on Tuesday and said the RCS standard provides “a more interactive and modern messaging experience right from Messages by Google.”
According to a statement from Verizon, Messages by Google will be preloaded onto every Verizon Android device by next year.
Google and Verizon said the switch will offer consumers “higher-quality photos and videos, chatting over Wi-Fi or data, knowing when your message is read, enjoying more dynamic and engaging group chats, and securely chatting with other Messages users in available one-on-one conversations with end-to-end encryption.”
Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said that by working with Google, Verizon would be able to offer Android users “a robust messaging experience that allows them to engage with loved ones, brands and businesses in new and innovative ways.”
“Our customers depend on us to provide a reliable, advanced and simple messaging platform to stay in touch with the people that matter the most in their lives,” Dunne said.
Google has spent years pushing the RCS standard as an update to SMS because it offers features similar to those seen in WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and Facebook Messenger. Apple has refused to use RCS and messages sent between Android phones and iPhones will continue to be SMS, making them less secure than messages sent between users on either platform.
Dirk Schrader, vice president of security research at New Net Technologies, noted that using RCS as the underlying standard is interesting because it can be seen as a message to services like Whatsapp by offering the same features without sharing the user’s contacts.
In a statement, Verizon explained that Messages will “work with Verizon’s network and RCS messaging service” and “Google will work with Verizon to provide a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem using RCS.”
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president of Platforms & Ecosystems, said the two companies have been working together on Android for years.
The GSMA reports that more than 473 million monthly active users in 60 countries are using the RCS standard and Verizon said Android users will have a “more advanced messaging experience as they interact with each other and businesses on networks that support the RCS standard.”
By the end of the year, those using Verizon’s Message+ app will also get full access to RCS capabilities including the ability to embed high-res pictures and videos, get real-time conversation notifications, and send animated GIFs.
The RCS standard will also allow businesses and Verizon Android users to communicate more easily for things like product purchases, reservations and more.
Setu Kulkarni, vice president of strategy at NTT Application Security, said that by making their end users available to brands and businesses, Verizon has taken on a new level of responsibility to keep its customers’ personal and private data on their phones secure from data breaches.
“Since the app is backed by Google, there is certainly a greater degree of confidence that security measures are taken but let’s not forget that the state of cyber security is dynamic — and that no app is guaranteed to be breach free forever,” Kulkarni said.