AT&T and Google Announce Switch to Android Messages Over SMS

A push to prioritize RCS services

AT&T is the latest phone carrier to soon make all Android phones use Google’s Android Messages by default. 

Google and AT&T announced the switch on Wednesday, saying they are working to make any AT&T customer with an Android phone use Messages by Google as their default messaging app. 

AT&T sign

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

"The collaboration aims to help accelerate the industry toward global Rich Communication Services (RCS) coverage and interoperability to offer a consistent, secure, and enhanced messaging experience for all Android users around the world," Google added in its announcement. 

The companies did not detail when Android users could expect the official switch from SMS to RCS, only that it would happen "soon."

The push for a unified RCS texting experience (which was created as Android’s version of Apple’s iMessage) was initially a joint venture by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, but the phone carriers canceled their plans.

Instead, T-Mobile—and now AT&T—have made separate partnerships with Google to prioritize Android Messages. Verizon is currently the only US phone carrier that hasn’t committed to using Android Messages as the default message app. 

Google said that the advantages of using RCS over SMS are no character limits, full-resolution photo sharing, the ability to share larger files, a better group chat experience, typing indicators and read receipts, Wi-Fi support, and more. 

"Many experts still say that with so many users already embedded in other messaging apps, RCS doesn’t feel like it’s worth the hype anymore."

Most notably, RCS services like Android Messages offer end-to-end encryption for one-to-one chats between people with chat features enabled, which Google also announced on Wednesday. 

However, many experts still say that with so many users already embedded in other messaging apps, RCS doesn’t feel like it’s worth the hype anymore. Especially since other messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal already offer more features than RCS currently brings to the table, with even broader availability and compatibility.

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