Joining AT&T and T-Mobile, Verizon has officially announced that it will make Google Messages the default SMS/RCS messaging client on all their Android phones. As the last carrier to do so, they solidify the long-awaited move to RCS as the dominant messaging platform across carriers in the US for non-Apple devices. For over 3 years now, Google has been trudging through the transition over to RCS and after trying to get carriers on board, they took it upon themselves to offer RCS Chat messages to any user that installed Google Messages as their texting app of choice, regardless of the carrier’s opinions on the matter.
Messages by Google will be preloaded, starting next year, on all Verizon Android devices, enabling consumers to enjoy rich messaging features, such as sending and receiving 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.Verizon Press Release
Now that we have all the major US carriers on board (as least starting in 2022 when Verizon actually puts this all into practice), all Android users moving forward will have Google Messages installed on their phones as the default SMS/RCS app right out of the box. Regardless of what you think about the matter, the fact is most people tend to use whatever is on their phone from the get-go. With Samsung adopting proper RCS support and companies like Verizon even getting their unsurprisingly-janky messaging apps to work with RCS, we should be in a good spot early in 2022 to declare the true arrival of RCS and the slow demise of SMS. Well, except for one glaring issue.
Apple, iMessage, and RCS support
Apple has iMessage and, as I said above, users tend to simply use whatever is on their phone out of the box. Because of this, the millions of iPhones sold every year means the same millions are using iMessage simply because it’s there. While iMessage works decently with SMS as a fallback option, Apple has been pretty chilly when it comes to converstaions around iMessage also adopting support for the new RCS standard. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is surprised by this. With a massive user base, Apple is generally reticent to succumb to outside pressure on any software or hardware trends. Look how long it took them to add a general web interface for Face Time despite the necessity driven by the pandemic.
Still, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t simply add RCS support at this stage of the game. No one is insisting that iMessage convert from Apple’s internal, specialized setup to RCS-only: we’re just saying they should add RCS as a fallback to iMessage when an iPhone user is chatting with a non-iPhone user. They could keep the green bubbles that currently identify non-iMessage chats or even make a new color bubble to indicate an RCS Chat conversation is taking place. Either way, it would simply be Apple just realizing that the world is moving on from SMS and that it is time to just add RCS support in iMessage.
Will it happen? I have no clue. Should it happen. 100%. Apple, however, isn’t usually one to bend to these sorts of pressures quickly, so I’m not over here holding my breath. Even though there are now over 3 billion active Android devices in the world, I still feel unsure that Apple will come along quickly at all. It would seem ridiculous for iMessage to not support SMS/MMS, though, right? Once the majority of the world comes around to RCS, wouldn’t that be the same goofiness? I’d think so, but my opinion doesn’t matter too much, I suspect. Until something moves, I suppose we’ll just sit back and wait. At least while we do, our standard messaging protocol as Android users is set to get a whole lot better across the board.