Since a decade, Google has been trying to develop a messaging platform that can perform as a modern messaging app like WhatsApp and can also incorporate the SMS feature similar to Apple's iMessage. In the process of achieving it, the company has tried making its essential apps like Google Talk, Hangouts and Android Messages to replace the standard SMS. The company has recently added RCS support to Android Messages, which also couldn't reach desired messaging platform standard. Google is now reportedly trying to fix this problem with a different approach i.e instead of launching a new app, they are planning to start a new service called 'Chat' – a service based on 'Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services (RCS)'.
In a conversation with TheVerge, Google has hinted that they are trying to revamp the default texting experience on all Android phones, bringing it on par modern messaging apps. Destined to be simply called Chat, the service supports RCS. Simply put, this will be a regular SMS service that will also allow users to send messages that include images, files and emoticons in a similar fashion to Google's Allo and other third-party chat services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Chat claims to offer read receipts and group chat feature similar to Apple's iMessage. Sadly though, this doesn't include the same amount of security that iMessage offers, i.e the messages are not encrypted end-to-end and carriers will be able to intercept messages as and when required.
The Chat service will be consolidated into the current Android Messages service, which already claims to be a standard SMS and texting app for many Android OEMs in the market. Do note that the Chat app is completely based on carrier services that support and allow Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services (RCS). The Chat will be present by default on all Android smartphones and will be free in your standard data plan. Users' carriers, who don't support RCS, can receive the richer text as a regular SMS, in a similar fashion to iMessage.
Google claims and believes that all the popular carriers will support and switch to this RCS based Chat service on Android phones in the coming months. The company has also revealed that around 55 carriers already support RCS, which include the predominant Indian carriers like Bharati Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone. The 11 OEMs that support RCS include LG, Huawei, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung. Surprisingly, Microsoft has also extended its support to this RCS-based service.
Google seems to be intended for fixing its messaging platform, the company has announced that they would be shifting its entire research and development team who are currently working on the current Allo platform to start focusing and developing this Chat service. Google has also appointed a new executive on this project, Anil Sabharwal, who led the team that created the Google Photos previously.
Since Hangouts (which later became an enterprise app) and Allo both of these apps couldn't replace the standard SMS app, we can expect this Chat service to replace the standard SMS on all Android platforms later this year.