What Is Google's 'Chat' For Android? An RCS-based Alternative To iMessage?


The search engine giant has released various messaging apps previously, and now, with Google Chat, the company will be hoping to narrow the difference with Apple's iMessage in terms of user experience.

Google is great at so many things, but one thing that eludes them is having a proper chatting app. Hangouts is not that popular, they killed off Google Buzz years ago and now Allo might be following suit. The company has already been working on bringing the RCS support by partnering with OEMs and offering Jibe RCS Cloud Platform. Instead, it will attempt to upgrade the existing Android Messages app with a new set of underlying carrier-based features. It'll be surprising if it decides to support RCS going forward, given its stance on user data privacy and security.

That also means Chat will have nearly all of the features generally associated with any messaging service.

Until now, Google has a bunch of their own chat apps with millions of users worldwide.

It's a big signal that Google is exhausted of making (read failing) at making their own proprietary messaging platform.

Google is planning to introduce some huge changes to the way messaging works on Android through a new messaging service called Chat. At the end of the day, the users fall back to the native SMS app on their devices.

As it is now, Android uses standard SMS text messaging, which is limited to a certain number of characters, and multimedia (photos, video) is highly compressed (it looks bad). According to Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Communications and Photos at Google, Chat will be an evolved version of Android Messages, built on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol.

Duo is a video chat app, while Allo was a text messaging service. The major advantage of sticking to Android Messages is because it comes pre-installed on nearly all Android devices by default.

However, with alternative instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Hike becoming mainstream thanks to cheaper 3G/4G plans and better functionality, SMS has taken a backseat in the recent past. Also this is not an iMessage clone, and nor will the service will end-to-end encrypted. Google is working hardcore on the new standard, Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services, so it would help every carrier's chat services to be interoperable. And Google certainly doesn't want to miss out on that. The app primarily depends on the telecom operators.

Google told The Verge that the Chat services will be enabled for users on a carrier-by-carrier basis. Thus, the success of the service hinges on telecom operators agreeing to offer the service for free or at least at competitive prices. Microsoft has also agreed to adopt the RCS standard, although there is no word yet of a native RCS-supporting chat application on Microsoft yet. And now, the company has chose to go all in on RCS with the introduction of "Chat".