AT&T Switches to Google’s RCS Platform for Advanced Texting Features

    After years of carriers failing to agree on a universal rich communications service, or RCS, text messaging standard that supports advanced chat features between networks, Google says AT&T is on board to use its Jibe RCS platform. 

    Google Senior Vice President Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted the news late Friday that AT&T’s default Android messaging will use Jibe “so their users will get the latest RCS features instantly.” 

    Unlike SMS and MMS, which send messages over cellular networks, the RCS standard uses data networks to send long messages, uncompressed photos and large group chats without a hitch.

    Apple’s iMessage and chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger already use data to get those features, but it’s been a struggle to get these advanced text features on basic messaging for Android devices.  

    Read more: Best Android Phone of 2023

    When is RCS coming to mobile devices?

    Though carriers had tried instituting their own separate RCS standards and support rich text features on each other’s networks via a collaborative initiative in 2019, Google bought the Jibe platform in the same year to start its own efforts at RCS multinetwork support.

    In 2020 for T-Mobile and by 2021 for AT&T and Verizon, all three major carriers agreed to have Google’s RCS-packing Messages app preloaded on phones to give users access to an app with rich texting features. Friday’s news means AT&T’s default messaging system will now use Jibe, however.

    Google has been introducing more RCS smart texting features in its Messages app, like adding emojis to replies, in efforts to catch up to Apple’s iMessage. Despite jabs from Google, Apple has been in no rush to adopt the messaging standard — and at Vox Media’s Code Conference last year, CEO Tim Cook even told an attendee that if he wanted to have seamless messaging when chatting with family, “buy your mom an iPhone.”

    Lockheimer also noted that at Google I/O 2023 last month, the company announced that over 800 million people currently use RCS, which it expects to grow to 1 billion users by the end of 2023.

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