What is RCS? What is it for? Discover everything about this system that Google has been promoting for some time and the future it could have.
Messaging in the handset market has changed dramatically over time. For many years SMS was the way most people used to be in contact with other people. With the advancement of smartphones, instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Telegram have gained weight, displacing SMS. Although Google has been looking for some time to promote RCS worldwide in this segment.
What is RCS? Everything about this technology is going to be told below. So that you can understand its importance, as well as why Google has been working to promote it worldwide for some time now.
What is RCS
RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. This technology has been on the market for some time, because it emerged around 2008. However, it was not until three years ago that it was launched as an official standard. That's why it's something many consumers don't know about. Since its presence is limited at present, despite the momentum of some brands.
The RCS allows to send messages, besides files, images, QR codes, action buttons, maps. However, this is not the only thing, since users are also given the possibility to receive payments, send receipts or even automate a customer service. For this reason, it goes much further than SMS, because the amount of functions it allows to do is much greater. This gives it a series of very clear advantages. But all this without having to install other applications for it. While phone manufacturers may create their own apps, but all of them will be compatible with each other.
The idea of RCS is to provide improved communication to the user, replacing SMS. But without the user having to change platform. It seeks to replace the main messaging applications, allowing you to send everything you can in them, as seen in the previous paragraph. Although it has a disadvantage, and that is that these messages are not going to be encrypted from end to end. This prevents them from having an additional layer of protection.
They also promise to be a key element for companies. In fact, this has been one of the aspects that Google has sought to promote, to encourage the adoption of RCS. Already last year it was revealed that companies could send messages.
How RCS works
In order to use the RCS, a number of requirements must be met. On the one hand, you must have at least version 2.9 of Android Messages installed on your device. While in terms of version of the operating system, you must use Android 4.4 KitKat or higher versions of it. In addition, users who want to use them must have a phone that can receive such messages. It also depends on the computer, in addition to the telephone network, which allows the use of them.
On the other hand, for the operation of the RCS, some elements have to be taken into account. There are three key elements in this process, which are those that allow it to function correctly:
- The client on an Android smartphone (Android Messages): The messaging application, which in this case is Messages, which is what allows this type of messages to be sent. It is an evolution of the classic applications with which to send SMS messages.
- The cloud: The infrastructure of servers that have the capacity to host the data sent worldwide using this RCS protocol.
- The Hub: This is the system that is responsible for connecting the networks of the mobile operators that take part in this system, so that there are no limitations depending on the location or use of a particular operator.
Google is currently the main responsible for this system. That is why they are responsible for ensuring that the RCS works correctly. They also seek to boost their presence, in many cases through agreements with operators. In the case of Spain, they are already a reality thanks to Vodafone. In addition, they have agreements with some 55 operators worldwide. Also with several manufacturers of Android smartphones, such as Samsung, LG or Huawei.
Do I need WiFi to use RCS?
The operation of RCS is similar to SMS, so you need to be connected to the telephone network. That is why the use of this system depends on the operator you have, and not on having an Internet connection available at that time. In a way is an advantage not needing an Internet connection to make use of it.
Although one aspect about which there are still many doubts today is the way you would pay. Because if you charge per message sent, as with SMS, then the chances of success of this system is significantly limited. Packages in the tariffs that allow sending messages using this system in an unlimited way are a good help. But at present there are still few concrete details.
In addition, it depends on each operator. So some could bet on packages, combining them in their tariffs. While others will charge per individual message. The lack of clarity in this regard is not very helpful to the advancement of RCS. This prevents them from being able to replace other applications such as WhatsApp or Telegram in the market.
Will RCS replace SMS?
Google has been driving the use of RCS for some time now. One of the reasons for this is the company's bad luck in the messaging applications segment. Recently Google Allo closed its doors definitively. In addition, other platforms such as Hangouts have also not finished curdling among consumers in Android. This has forced the company to look for other solutions.
Currently, RCS works mainly in the United States and Canada. Their presence in Europe is limited, as well as developing their presence in Latin American markets, although they still have a long way to go to have an established presence in the market. It is impossible to establish or estimate dates for a broader market presence. There are many factors that influence this development.
Above all, it must be borne in mind that many operators do not use it, nor is it known if their plans are to make use of this system. For this reason, many see it as complicated that RCS is really going to replace SMS and become a system with a great presence in the market. Although they share many elements in common. Because they use the same application, but it is a different communication channel, which will be used in a different way. Remember that this system is not independent of the operator you have, unlike apps like WhatsApp or Telegram.
In addition, they are still waiting for Google to launch Chat, which is the trade name they are going to give RCS. Already last year it was commented that they were working on it. No launch date was said, leaving in the air that it would be between 2018 and 2019. Although at the moment we still have no news. Which does not help too much in this regard.
Operators that support RCS
As mentioned above, the number of operators providing this support to RCS has been increasing over time. There are a total of 55 operators that give or have announced at the time that this support is going to be given. Therefore, although there are many who announced the support, in many cases it has not happened yet. This is the list known so far:
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Android applications with RCS support
Google starts removing applications that access SMS and calls
Google has begun to boost the use of RCS in Android with the introduction of this feature in the Android Messages app. Last year began a renewal in this application, with the introduction of it. Although this feature works only in certain operators, who have already joined this program. Little by little this number is increasing. Being this application the one that is used in this sense for the use of RCS.
It is expected that at some point the Google Chat application will arrive, in which this RCS will be implemented in an extensive way. But at the moment there is no news about the launch of it. Since last year there has been talk about it, although Google itself has not said anything. So news is expected soon.