After a long history of short-lived messaging apps, Google has hopped back on the horse to try yet again to roll out a new service known as Chat.
According to early reports by The Verge, the company is hoping to use Chat as a full replacement for SMS using what they called the Rich Communication Services, which is technology seemingly designed to improve text communication that Google has continually lobbied more and more companies to start implementing into their phones.
Chat, once rolled out, will be accessible through Android Messages first, automatically activating itself and superseding SMS in communications unless it is manually turned off. For conversations with those who don’t have Chat, though, communications default back to SMS. It’s also important to note that Chat will use a phone’s own data plan rather than SMS plan as most are accustomed to.
While it seems Microsoft is on board with Google’s plan for RCS communication apps, Apple is still holding out. Whether this means Chat will merely be an option for iPhones or will not make an appearance at all has yet to be announced.
As for what Chat will actually offer users, though, it’s surprisingly standard overall. The features one would expect with any messenger are said to be there, such as a typing indicator, read notifications, group chat functions, and high-resolution video and photo posting. However, a crucial feature Chat currently seems to lack is any form of end-to-end encryption, making it possible for messages sent over the service to be intercepted by any number of third parties.
Google claims to already have 55 cell phone carriers attached to the Chat roll out, with more likely to come as time passes. The company says that it will use Chat as a basis for building more and better features not included in SMS, such as a desktop version to send messages between devices. It also says that it is officially going to “pause” development on all its many other messenger apps as it works with Chat, seemingly putting its full faith in the prospect that Chat will succeed.
Whether this will turn out to be a good move or not remains to be seen, but Google certainly has a less-than-stellar record when it comes to messaging services and longevity. In the end, it will depend primarily on phone carriers and customers to decide Chat’s fate.