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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Google launches a new messaging service

Por Nina

Google has just launched a new messaging service designed to replace SMS text messages on their Android phones, which it wants to eliminate completely. The company from Cupertino, in California, USA, will offer a system that not only allows sending texts, but also videos, and will have reading receipts, which are not available in the SMS. Its name is Chat.

In the same way that Apple did with iMessage in iPhone cell phones, Chat will be integrated by default in Android. However, it will depend on the mobile telephone operators to provide the service. In addition, the messages will not be encrypted (something that Apple does offer). As Anil Sabharwal, product manager at Google, told the technology news site The Verge, "RCS continues to be a service owned by an operator," which means that messages can be legally intercepted.

SMS (Short Message Service) began to be implemented on a large scale in the 1990s. They allow mobile phones to exchange text messages of up to 160 characters. Modern messaging applications offer much more advanced functions that make it possible to send texts through the Internet, instead of using only the SMS mobile network. But the messaging application Android has by default -Messages- is still a basic service.

Google has tried several times to start on its own messaging platform, but has failed to attract the attention of a large audience. The company said last Thursday that it is "pausing" the development of its latest attempt, Allo, which launched in 2016. In addition to Apple, Google has other rivals on messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, which offer, in addition to sending messages and multimedia calls in high resolution, indicators of when the correspondent is writing. This time, instead of betting on launching another messaging application, Google has worked on an integrated platform within its Android operating system. Mobile operators, phone manufacturers and application developers will be able to use the new technology to create compatible messaging systems.

Chat uses a communication standard called RCS (Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services), which aims to revolutionize instant messaging. The GSM association, an organization of mobile operators dedicated to the implementation of GSM technology, has spent years working on the renewal of SMS and the implementation of the RCS. It could be said that Chat is basically the same, but with a more commercial name, a Google strategy to make it more attractive to its customers. To develop it, the technology was associated with more than 50 mobile phone networks, including Vodafone, T-Mobile and Verizon, and a dozen manufacturers, including Samsung, LG and Huawei.

Once Chat is available around the world, Android users can take advantage of that system when exchanging multimedia messages with other Android clients. As with the Apple iMessage, if the recipient does not have a compatible device, then the messages will be sent through the old SMS system. Google assured that Chat is not a new Google application. Since it uses the RCS communications standard, it is up to mobile networks and manufacturers to activate that functionality. And since the messages are sent via the Internet, they will not exhaust the quota of text messages from the clients. However, mobile phone operators could, in theory, charge additional costs to their customers to use Chat.

The US mobile telecommunications giant Sprint has already activated Chat on its devices and also the Rogers company in Canada. Microsoft has not confirmed whether it will integrate the function in Windows 10 although is one of the firms that supported the development of the RCS. Samsung, however, will integrate the RCS technology into its own software. Apple, the great rival of Google, did not participate in the development of the project. Google said it expects the functionality to be fully implemented in all Android phones within a maximum period of two years. As announced at the end of last year, Chat will reach the Latin American market through the operators América Móvil (Telcel), Telefónica, Oi and AT&T in Mexico.