Google recently decided that they will be rolling out their RCS messaging standard on Android devices (not made by Samsung). RCS stands for Rich Communication Services and it makes your text messaging experience much more similar to what you get when using WhatsApp.
That’s a pretty big deal but up until now we hadn’t covered it for one major reason. Google was partnering with mobile networks (carriers) to roll it out which made the chances of them partnering with Zim networks quite slim. Google doesn’t tend to talk to mobile networks on a global scale and it would’ve been a first if they reached out and it would also cut the margins telcos get from SMSs as they would become reliant on data and thus be way cheaper for subscribers.
Anyway, there’s now a chance Google’s new messaging experience will actually get to us, as Google is now rolling it out independently without consulting mobile networks. Google believes mobile networks where slowing them down and thus they’ve decided to ditch them entirely.
So what will be the benefits brought forward by this new messaging experience? Well, like WhatsApp you’ll be able to share media messages
(pictures and videos), whilst SMS character length won’t be limited like it usually is on texts. Users will also have an online status, typing status, read receipts and location sharing. Pretty neat!
If you’re texting someone who is also using an RCS enabled device, then the modern layout will automatically appear but if you’re texting someone using a featurephone, then it will resort to the SMS you know and love. Ok maybe, you don’t love it.
There is one pretty huge omission though. End to end encryption. In a country like Zimbabwe where some of you (definitely not me) may want to make jokes about our President or plan protests, it may not be wise to do so using Google’s new messaging service, if it arrives on our shores. The government may be able to access those messages (if the network provider lets them) and pay you a visit for planning the next Tajamuka.
Apart from the government, your network provider will also be able to read those messages so you may want to stay away from this for any private conversations which will end up meaning you probably stay away from it for any and every conversation. It will be interesting to see what the reception is like if it is introduced in Zim. Google Messages with RCS support will be making it’s way to France and the UK later this month…