Google said that it is working with AT&T to make Messages by Google the default messaging app for all U.S. customers using Android operating system-based devices.

The goal of the move, according to a Google blog post, is to accelerate the adoption of Rich Communications Services (RCS) coverage and interoperability which will provide users with consistent, secure and enhanced messaging. RCS provides a closer experience to Apple’s popular iMessage platform for iPhones.

The companies will work together to upgrade SMS with Messages features, including chat based on the open RCS standard. With Messages as the default, Google says that AT&T customers using Android phones will be able to do thing such as:

  • Share full-resolution pictures;
  • Send a high-quality video;
  • Know when someone is replying to a text;
  • Send and receive messages over Wi-Fi or data;
  • More easily add or remove participants from group chats; and
  • Use end-to-end encryption for one-on-one RCS conversations between people using Messages and people who have chat features enabled.

“Many AT&T customers have enjoyed the advantages of RCS for years when texting with friends and family,” David Christopher, the executive vice president and general manager – AT&T Mobility, said in a blog post. “We look forward to working closely with Google to extend these benefits to even more of our customers as they enjoy richer conversations with others around the world.”

In May 2020, T-Mobile and Google said they would expand RCS. The agreement, which was for Android customers of both for T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile, focused on an interconnect of the standards-based RCS Universal Profile 1.0 interconnect with Google’s Messages service.

In late October 2019, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint (which of course now is part of T-Mobile) formed the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) to develop next generation messaging. The goal was to develop standards-based and interoperable messaging service built on RCS. An Android version of the platform was expected last year.

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