RCS gains momentum, AT&T makes Google Messages the default on Android

AT&T has committed to make Google Messages its default messaging app for Android phones, continuing Google's push towards RCS. David Christopher, executive vice president and general manger of AT&T Mobility, said that the company is looking forward to "working closely" with Google to provide these benefits to more customers, as they have richer conversations with other people around the globe. This announcement comes just months after T-Mobile had announced its own partnership to Google. It includes offering more Android phones and defaulting to Google Messages. Samsung encourages RCS on its phones and makes Google Messages more native to its Galaxy S21 smartphone family. Verizon, America's largest carrier, is the only one left standing after the announcement. U.S. carriers had previously pushed for RCS adoption, but they did it separately from Google after the company launched it on Google Messages. AT&T's RCS was available only on select devices. However, the different implementations were not interoperable between them. RCS seemed to be going nowhere for a while because the carriers wanted it their way. Things looked promising at one point when the carriers created an initiative together with Google to create their own cross carrier RCS messaging app. The initiative failed to materialize and was abandoned by Google, who continued pushing for RCS adoption via its Google Messages app. Verizon stated at the time that they "remain committed [to] enhancing the messaging experience of customers, including growing the availability RCS." Although the company has not responded to questions, this suggests that they may be open to working with Google. AT&T's push will allow more Android users to access some of its most popular features, including reactions, better-quality images and end-toend encryption. The next hurdle is to get iPhones to adopt this standard and move away SMS.