Google is updating its messaging app by adding new organization features and multimedia support in a new effort to push the RCS protocol forward.
RCS (Rich Communication Service) is a communication standard which aims to replace the old SMS (Short Message Service) protocol. The more modern standard allows for “richer text features”, higher quality content and end-to-end encryption for better security, according to google (opens in new tab). And that’s basically what users will get in this update, although app security doesn’t see any improvement.
Google’s stated goal is “to improve messaging between Android and iOS [devices]” as various tech industry bodies have been pushing for widespread adoption of the RCS. But there is one significant player standing in the way: Apple, which has refused to adopt the protocol.
At the beginning of this year, Google Messages received an update that allows you to display emoji reactions (opens in new tab) of iPhone users. This last batch revolves around helping people deal with confusing group chats.
Messages will now start suggesting actions when detecting certain types of texts. For example, the app suggests pinning texts with important details like addresses or phone numbers to keep track of them better. If it recognizes a message like “Can you talk now?” the app will suggest calling that person and displaying the Google Meet icon for quick access.
Reminders will be further integrated into the app, allowing you to set future reminders directly from Messages without opening anything else. And individual messages can be replied directly, either by text or emoji, but first you’ll need to enable RCS.
With regards to multimedia support, it’s more about making things more efficient. Audio messages sent by the app will be automatically transcribed thanks to the new Voice Message Transcription feature. Google points out that this can be especially useful if you’re in a crowded space. Additionally, YouTube videos can be watched within Messages.
Google also mentioned that it will be trying out a new feature in select countries. Through Messages, the feature will allow you to speak directly to businesses found in the Search and Maps apps. We got in touch to ask which countries will have this tool. This story will be updated if we receive a response.
The update won’t be released for a few weeks, but you can download the Direct messaging app from Google Play Store (opens in new tab) right now.
It will be interesting to see if these latest updates to the Messages app lead Apple to finally adopt RCS. When asked about it at the Far Out event, the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, stated that iPhone users don’t really care about the protocol, so Apple didn’t see fit to support it. Apparently enough users don’t care about disconnecting messages across platforms. Also, you have options like Whatsapp on the iPhone if people really want that RCS support.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility, however. At one point, Apple said it wouldn’t put a USB-C port on iPhones, but now they’re apparently going to do so in 2024 like the European Union has signed a law forcing them to do this. It is true that there is no government body telling Apple to adopt RCS, but it is facing increasing pressure from the industry. Even Mark Zuckerberg shot Apple in a recent post on instagram (opens in new tab) about iMessage’s lack of E2EE.
If you’re interested in secure messaging, check out The Best Encrypted Messaging Apps for Android.