Messaging from an Android smartphone could be about to get a lot better. In future, RCS messaging will work between the Android Messages and Samsung Messages apps, thanks to a new agreement that aims for RCS interoperability between the two company's apps and underlying platform.
RCS stands for Rich Communications Services and is the next generation of SMS that enables functionality similar to WhatsApp and iMessage. The collaboration should plug a hole in RCS support within the Android ecosystem.
RCS is supported in some fashion by 57 mobile carriers worldwide, but it's also a bit of a patchwork, with Samsung and Google developing their own RCS platforms aimed at mobile carriers.
Sprint was the only US carrier Google mentioned in February when it announced a handful of carriers in Europe, North America, and Latin America would support RCS through the Jibe RCS cloud, which Google acquired in 2015. The carriers and several OEMs agreed to install Android Messages, which supported Jibe RCS, as the default messaging app.
Samsung in 2016 acquired a Canadian RCS platform and last year launched its own RCS cloud, noting support for Galaxy devices and a collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, KT, SK Telecom, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
While many Android OEMs have agreed to ship phones with Android Messages, Samsung opted to retain its own app, Samsung Messages, for its Galaxy phones.
The collaboration, announced by Samsung on Wednesday, aims to ensure that RCS messaging works "seamlessly" across Android Messages and Samsung Messages, according to Samsung.
This will allow users of Samsung phones and other Android phones to enjoy messaging app features like chat over wi-fi, rich group chats, seeing when others are typing, as well as sharing hi-resolution photos and videos between Android devices.
"Working together, Google and Samsung will ensure that their messaging clients, Android Messages and Samsung Messages, work seamlessly with each company's RCS technology, including cloud and business messaging platforms," Samsung said.
The additional RCS support will come first to the Galaxy S8, S8+, S8 Active, S9, S9+, Note8, Note9, and select A and J series devices running Android 9.0 or later.
New Galaxy phones will also come with native RCS support so long as the carrier supports it.
"We've been working with the mobile industry to upgrade the messaging experience on Android with RCS," said Anil Sabharwal, vice president for Communications Products and Photos at Google.
"Samsung has been a major contributor to this initiative, and our partnership will further advance our shared vision of a substantially improved messaging experience on Android for users, brands and the broader Android ecosystem."
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