Google announced Friday that it will begin rolling out the next gen-texting standard called Rich Communication Services (RCS) in the Sprint network.

This advanced texting platform, which is supposed to replace the Simple Messaging Service (SMS) is more powerful as it supports high-resolution photo sharing and it is capable of transmitting images and videos up to 100 times larger than multimedia text messaging.

Sprint in the US is the first carrier launching support for the new universal RCS profile. Image Credit: Tech Crunch

Unlike SMS, RCS has no 160 character limit and also supports group chats and allows users to name them, add new members and leave existing groups whenever they want. Additionally, RCS features typing indicators, which show when chat members are writing a message, and read receipts, those timestamps that let users know when a message has been received and read.

Similarly to SMS, the advanced texting service is a carrier-based solution. Carriers need to ensure the service can actually overcome the typical flaws SMS has had, including interoperability issues from one carrier to another. Since February, Google has been trying to convince carriers that RCS is indeed the solution consumers need.

“We’re excited to see this first launch of RCS come to life, providing a better carrier messaging experience for millions of people in the U.S.,” Amir Sarhangi, head of RCS at Google, wrote in a blog post. “We look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.”

Every Android smartphone sold in 2017 will come with Google Messenger preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging client, according to Droid Life. Select LG and Nexus phones will have software updates and owners will see their messaging client updated automatically whereas all other Sprint-Android users will have to download the Messenger app from Google Play. Google said it is working with other carrier partners to bring RCS to every Android user in the U.S, Droid Life reported.

Google’s efforts to offer interoperability among carriers

Sprint uses Jibe RCS cloud, which is Google’s solution for supporting the rich communication service. Because it comports with the Universal Profile for messaging, Jibe should also be capable of sending and receiving multimedia messages with any RCS-compatible phone. In case that fails, it would fall back to simple messaging service.

Carriers created the Universal Profile for it to become a standard for all SMS activity that millions of mobile phone owners use across the world. RCS on Sprint will work through Android’s standard Messenger app, one of Google’s three messaging apps. Allo and Hangouts are the other two.

Google’s Messenger app will join the competition led by Apple’s iMessage, the default messaging app on iPhones that combines SMS with more advanced messaging functionalities. T-Mobile and AT&T have released the RCS but it is not compatible with Android Messenger.

Google: The Verge