Verizon jumps on Google train for RCS

Verizon is no longer the last holdout when it comes to joining Google’s support for Rich Communications Services (RCS) on Android devices. Verizon today announced a collaboration with Google to expand advanced messaging services to Android users in the U.S., starting next year.

The Messages by Google app is based on the RCS standard, and T-Mobile and AT&T are already on board. Last month, Google announced it’s working with AT&T to establish Messages by Google, and prior to that, T-Mobile and Google made known their intentions to expand access to RCS.

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“Our customers depend on us to provide a reliable, advanced and simple messaging platform to stay in touch with the people that matter the most in their lives,” said Ronan Dunne, EVP and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, in a statement. “By working with Google, Verizon will offer our Android users a robust messaging experience that allows them to engage with loved ones, brands and businesses in new and innovative ways.”

According to Verizon, Messages by Google will be preloaded, starting next year, on all Verizon Android devices, so customers will get access to rich messaging features, such as sending and receiving higher-quality photos and videos, knowing when a message is read and securely chatting with other Messages users with end-to-end encryption.

For businesses, RCS promises to help them more effectively reach their customers by allowing Verizon Android users the option to easily connect for purchasing products, making reservations, asking questions and more.

Customers using Verizon's Message+ app also will get full access to RCS capabilities by the end of the year, including embedded high-res pictures and videos, real-time conversation notifications and animated GIFs, Verizon said.

“Verizon and Google have been working together on Android since the early days of smartphones, and we’re excited to be working with Verizon today to bring a modern-messaging experience to our users," said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s SVP of Platforms & Ecosystems, in a statement.

RCS started as the GSMA project joyn more than a decade ago. Google acquired RCS pioneer Jibe Mobile back in 2015 and has been a big proponent of the technology while Apple has been a no-show.   

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Earlier this year, the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI), a joint venture with the biggest U.S. carriers committed to RCS, disbanded, with AT&T and Verizon issuing separate statements about their intentions to remain committed to RCS. By that time, T-Mobile had already announced its plans to go ahead with Google on the Android side of the house.