This is Chat, the technology with which Google and the operators want to compete with WhatsApp and iMessages

If you can’t dominate a sector, change the rules of the game to rebuild it in your image and likeness. That seems to be Google’s new strategy for instant messaging, an area in which it has been launching different applications for more than ten years that have not finished penetrating or competing with WhatsApp and company.

As Anil Sabharwal, responsible for the project, has told The Verge, Google has been negotiating for months with the largest operators in the world to create a new technology to replace SMS. It will be called simply ‘Chat’, and that will be the commercial name in the presentation layer of the RCS standard introduced by Google last year. The idea is to adopt it and create around a new application that simplifies the messaging experience like iMessage does on iOS.

Before taking charge of this project, Sabharwal was also responsible for the applications of Google Photos, one of the most successful of the search engine company in recent years. The company’s commitment to this new movement is such that Google has paused the development of the Allo messaging app to focus on this new.

Chat, the name to popularize the RCS

This is Chat, the technology with which Google and the operators want to compete with WhatsApp and iMessages

Chat will not exactly be a new application, nor a new standard. It will be the name by which the RCS will be known to make it more attractive to users, and your implementation will begin with a new set of options for the Android Messages app. Not Google Chat, not AT&T Chat, just Chat for everyone.

For it the basic functions of any messaging app today will be implementedsuch as notices that the message has been read, indications that someone is typing, group messages, or high-resolution images and videos. As it is a standard and not a new application, the different apps that operators or other third parties can make will be compatible with each other.

And in the event that you write one of these messages to someone who does not yet have Chat (RCS) or is not an Android user, the message will be sent in SMS format. This is the same as Apple’s iMessage, but we remember that the difference is that Chat is not an application, but a type of technology.

It is not yet known when this standard will begin to be implemented, but Google is optimistic about it and has already spoken with multiple operators to try to start activating it by the end of the year. Also, the idea is that Chat enter your data plan as SMS currently do. This is an important point, because if the operators try to start charging for the new standard as they did in the past with SMS, everything will be doomed.

The strategy is therefore clear. Google throws in the towel in the instant messaging sector, and instead of continuing to try, it will promote a new standard that they can control. An example of this is in the aforementioned abandonment of Allo, which will soon begin to implement new options in the Android Messages application, such as searching for GIFs or Google Assistant.

This is a move that could be round if it turns out well, since with the exception of Samsung and some other manufacturer, most of them already have Google Messages app as default for SMS on Android mobiles. Therefore, the search engine company would already have a huge user base to start with.

In addition, it will also allow manufacturers that do not have the default Android app some leeway. For example, Samsung could update its SMS application to include this technology and the new functions it offers, and by doing so you would be indirectly supporting it and helping Google even without using your app.

RCS: between the future and failure

Google’s idea seems very good, launch a new standard with the operators to compete with WhatsApp, and incidentally convert an application that almost all Android users have installed into a reference application, which would also be compatible with other operators or manufacturers. However, there are some issues that can compromise the future of its adoption.

The first is privacy. Like SMS, Chat will not be end-to-end encrypted, so the messages we send may be intercepted. Most users may not care too much about that, but with the efforts being made to raise awareness about the importance of privacy, it seems like a shot in the opposite direction that could take its toll.

The second problem is that supports do not translate into deployment. As they already told us in Engadget Mobile, with the calculator in hand, Chat and its RCS standard could reach 350 million users when it began to be deployed with the help of the operators. These are more than those used by apps like Telegram, but it is light years away from WhatsApp and its more than 1,500 million users.

In fact, we could almost say that WhatsApp has already become a standard in itself in the eyes of basic users, so getting them out of there without them seeing a complication can be quite difficult. That does not mean that it is impossible, but of course that only with the support of operators it will not be different, and they will have to invest a lot of effort in explaining the new technology and trying to sell its benefits.

Among these benefits does not seem to be being able to communicate with everyone. The Verge note speaks of Android users at all times, so unless Apple ends up supporting the standard, a barrier will be created with iPhone users that is difficult to overcome. Who they do have the support of is Microsoft, so it will be interesting to see where you could get if an application is included in Windows 10.

In Engadget Mobile | RCS, the replacement for the old SMS powered by Google and the operators, continues to fail