Google has replaced its SMS app Messenger with Android Messages, which will provide features such as simpler sign-up on supporter carriers as well as bug fixes and stability improvements.
This seems to be Google’s way of competing with Apple’s iMessage service, according to Wired.
According to the Verge, it is part of Google’s effort to support the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard which is supported by major mobile carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.
RCS incorporates multiple app functionality in the same messaging app, replacing previously separate apps such as SMS and MMS, something already done by apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage.
Google has touted the launch of Android Messages as “an industrial effort” to switch to a better messaging standard and a “signal” to users that the app will now fully support RCS.
The app can be directly downloaded from the Play Store — users can update their messaging app rather than waiting for a software update.
Android currently has a slew of messaging apps, including Android Messages, Allo and Duo, in addition to apps that manufacturers of Android smartphones put on their devices, such as Samsung’s ChatON. The list of manufacturers which will adhere to the standard includes:
And other Android device manufacturers, along with Pixel and Android One devices.
Associated carriers listed in Google’s announcement include:
Additionally, Google also announced that these smartphone makers have agreed to adopt a Universal Profile for RCS, which will ensure the users that RCS is working. According to Google, if you add up all the devices and carriers together, it would mean that more than a billion people could embrace the RCS standard.
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