Tuesday , October 23 2018 Ausdroid » News » Google is putting Allo on hold to build out RCS messaging features in Android Messages in a service called ‘Chat’


It looks like Google’s messaging strategy is getting even messier – or maybe less messier with a new report today stating that Google is halting work on Allo to concentrate on building out the Rich Communication Services (RCS) features of Android Messages in a service they’re calling ‘Chat’.

The report from The Verge, says that Chat isn’t going to be another messaging client to join their already crowded space that includes Allo, Duo, Hangouts and Android Messages, instead it’s to be the name of the service that incorporates RCS features into Android Messages. RCS features include the option to do away with the 160 character limit of SMS text messages, as well as offer more rich, multimedia focused features such as support for file, video and image sharing as well as better group chat support.

Google is so serious about this new move towards adopting RCS as the future of messaging on Android that they’ve halted work on Allo, and moved staff working on that project to work on Android messages.

Heading up the new team is Anil Sabharwal, the current head of Google’s communications team and newly announced Engineering Lead at Google Australia, who is familiar to most of us as the face of one of the most popular Google services announced in recent years – Google Photos.

The team will work to bring Google features including GIF search and Google Assistant to Android Messages – there’s even going to be a web client for Android Messages, which will work like the Allo web client with a QR code used to sync the chat to your phone.

‘Chat’ will be based on the Universal RCS Profile outlined by the GSM Association, the standards body that represents nearly 800 mobile operators around the world. There are currently 55 carriers and 11 OEMs signed on to support the Universal RCS Profile, with Telstra the notable Australian carrier signed on to support RCS. Telstra has already implemented RCS on their network, however it’s only supported on a limited number of Samsung branded handsets.

Singtel, Optus’ parent company is also signed on as a signatory to the Universal RCS Profile but when asked about implementing RCS in Australia, an Optus spokesperson said:

Optus is investigating the development of Rich Communication Services. We’re considering the accessibility of this functionality in current handsets and how smartphone manufacturers are responding to this technology.

Vodafone, though a signatory to the Universal RCS Profile at a global level, when we asked the Australian branch of Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), the said

We don’t have any news on RCS at the moment. That said we’re constantly evaluating new technologies and if and how we might integrate them so will let you know if we have any updates.”

The Chat service is very much controlled by the carriers, as far as Google is concerned there won’t even be end-to-end encryption like we see in apps such as Telegram, or even iMessage. Anil told The Verge ‘RCS continues to be a carrier-owned service, so legal intercept and other laws that exist that allow carriers to have access to the data continues to be the case’.

As far as RCS is concerned, it’s not only supported in Android, it’s also supported in Windows 10, so you may see support for this in Windows apps giving you cross device messaging. Google has also been spotted working on supporting messaging in Chrome OS, so it’s possible we may see it there as well.

In terms of when we’ll see support for ‘Chat’ more broadly, it seems it’s a fair way off with Anil telling The Verge ‘This is not a three- to five-year play. Our goal is to get this level of quality messaging to our users on Android within the next couple of years’.

It seems we’re a long way off from a real solution in Android messaging, but now we know where Google is going with it at least for now. We may see more of what Google is doing with Chat at Google I/O in a few weeks.

Source: The Verge.

Daniel Tyson   Ausdroid's Editor in Chief

Dan is a die-hard Android fan. Some might even call him a lunatic. He's been an Android user since Android was a thing, and if there's a phone that's run Android, chances are he owns it (his Nexus collection is second-to-none) or has used it.

Dan's dedication to Ausdroid is without question, and he has represented us at some of the biggest international events in our industry including Google I/O, Mobile World Congress, CES and IFA.

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Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

Have never been able to get any friend or family member or ‘potential new friend’ to want to use anything other than standard SMS or the very crappy Facebook Messenger/WhatcrApp. Not Hangouts, Duo or Allo or my preference Signal. If they are on yPhones then forget it, they don’t even know anything other than iMessage or WhatcrApp. I’d slam my head in a door before I’d allow Facebook Messenger or WhatcrApp on my phones. Well at least now I can delete Allo, Duo and Hangouts.

Andrew
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Andrew

All aboard the Android Messaging merry-go-round!

Round and round we go! Where will it stop? Nobody knows!

Mike Stevens
Ausdroid Reader

….ahahahahahahahahahaha *breathe* ahahahahaa.

But, hey, as late as this decision has come and as woefully messy as it’s all been, it sounds a hell of a lot like they’ve finally figured out what we actually need.

Here’s hoping we finally see RCS on Google’s own bloody flagship phone in Australia, rather than just on the Samsungs. (Pixel 2 XL owner right here.)

Tibb So
Ausdroid Reader
Tibb So

This is true. I have S9+ and Pixel 2 XL, Android Messages on S9+ has chat options in settings and Android Messages on Pixel 2 XL does not. Both versions have exact same version numbers. Both using Telstra SIMS.

Yianni
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Yianni

Ahh Google, here we go again. When will they learn? Allo and Duo have been a disaster with absolutely no one in my contacts using it and my friends and I have even moved off Hangouts gradually over the past few years and just reverted back to good old SMS since most plans/offers are now unlimited and also send the occasional Facebook Messenger message and Snapchat. This will require everyone to have Google Messages on their device, which most people don’t have right now, unless Google make it mandatory as part of the app suite they push to vendors it’s… Read more »

allanthomas777
Ausdroid Reader

I don’t agree re Duo. A number of my friends use it; dead easy to set up and use, excellent call quality. To each their own, I guess.
I’ve never been able to see the point of Allo

Yianni
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Yianni

I have Allo and Duo installed. Not a single one of my 300+ contacts has messaged me or video called me on it apart from the first day that we were testing it out with a couple of tech buddies. That’s the problem “each to their own” it’s a scattered space and everyone uses something different. This is totally 100% Google’s fault for creating such a mess with their messaging apps. A single unified solution from the start would have gotten everyone onboard at least on Android, where as now everyone has a mature text/video app they use and they’re… Read more »

Philip Clark
Ausdroid Reader

My understanding is any message app that uses RCS will benefit when communicating with any other RCS messaging app; eg. Google Messages (on an RCS carrier) will support RCS features when sending messages to/receiving from Samsung messages (on an RCS carrier). If that wasn’t the case and Chat only worked in pure Google Messages conversations, than there would be no point to any of this.

Yianni
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Yianni

This would be the case if carriers allow all devices to access RCS with a compatible RCS messaging app and interconnect with other networks. This is the long term goal as far as I can see. For now though we’re stuck with carriers only allowing a small numbers of devices to access RCS and blocking all others and not even talking to other networks just yet. Even Google’s own Pixel devices can’t access RCS on Telstra just yet even though the device is directly sold by Telstra. As far as I know RCS is currently available on Android Messages for… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

I guess you didn’t read the article and/or don’t understand what is going on here and why RCS is different. First, every Android phone will already has the app that will use RCS – It’s called Messages and comes shipped with every Andriod phone. You and everyone who has an Android phone has it already. Second, yes it will require carries to implement RCS and that’s exactly what The Verge article is about – Google has done the legwork and negotiated with over 50 carriers around the world (including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for Australia) into supporting RCS. Google are… Read more »

Yianni
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Yianni

Are you saying all Android phones right now have Android Messages preinstalled, or will do so in the future? The majority of Android phones currently do not have Android Messages preinstalled as it’s not part of GMS as far as I know and not forced upon by Google. Then we have the likes of Oppo and a few other vendors where the Messaging App can’t even be changed to a third party one, so good luck getting RCS on these devices unless Google makes it mandatory in the future as part of GMS. Also, Android is not about openness when… Read more »

Will
Ausdroid Reader

FFS Google… I’m just going to get friends/family to stick with Hangouts till the very end. At least they have one messaging platform that works fine with all other Google services (Assistant, Android Auto, etc) and on multiple devices at once

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