Google made its commitment to RCS (Rich Communications Services) clear last year when the company acquired Jibe, but now things are getting even more serious. The GSM Association today announced that it, more than 15 global mobile operators around the world, and Google, have finally struck a deal to actually make bring RCS to widespread adoption. And Google says that an Android RCS client is in the works, being made in collaboration with several Android OEMs and the aforementioned mobile operators…

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For those unaware, RCS is an exciting technology. SMS and MMS have long been the standard for messaging over carrier networks, but that’s about to change. iMessage, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and other services have introduced technologies to messaging that most of us can no longer live without, and RCS hopes to be a universal platform to succeed the increasingly-outdated SMS platform that global operators still use. Today’s announcement just says that dozens of carriers and Google are partnering to bring RCS to reality.

“Messaging holds a central place in our lives, whether it’s coordinating a meet-up, sharing photos with friends, or sending thoughts to a loved one,” said Nick Fox, Vice President of Communications Products at Google. “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.”

The Android RCS client to be provided at some point down the line by Google (perhaps as part of the upcoming release of Android N?) will be based on the universal RCS profile, and will include the ability to group chat more esily compared to SMS, share high-res photos, show read receipts a la WhatsApp or iMessage, and more. These features, as part of RCS, will become part of carrier messaging, and Google says that GSMA RCS “advanced calling features” will also eventually be supported.

BARCELONA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Global operators, including América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom, Vodafone, the GSMA, and Google today announced the launch of a mobile industry initiative to accelerate the availability of Rich Communications Services (RCS). The initiative will enable all operators worldwide to provide an open, consistent, and globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices. Operators have agreed to transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with operators and OEMs.

By aligning on a universal RCS profile, mobile operators will be able to deploy a consistent RCS implementation, feature set, and configuration. The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling consumers to access RCS services on their devices. Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide¹. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.

The profile and client will enable a consistent and interoperable messaging experience between all Android devices and across all operators worldwide, as well as ease interoperability testing between networks and significantly reduce time to market. The universal profile can be implemented by other operating systems and will be supported by a formal GSMA accreditation process. Google will also provide an open source version of the client based on the universal profile specification and will provide developer APIs to enhance the RCS client experience.

“RCS continues to experience organic growth around the world, with 47 operators in 34 countries having launched services to date. However, this initiative will greatly simplify and accelerate adoption of the technology, and points to the future of how mobile users will communicate with one another. This is an incredibly positive development for the industry,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Google’s contributions will provide operators a new opportunity for a rich, consistent implementation across Android devices and offer a real step change in messaging experiences for consumers worldwide.”

“Messaging holds a central place in our lives, whether it’s coordinating a meet-up, sharing photos with friends, or sending thoughts to a loved one,” said Nick Fox, Vice President of Communications Products at Google. “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.”

In the global rollout of RCS, mobile operators can deploy their own infrastructure or they have the option to use the Jibe Platform from Google, which supports the universal RCS profile. The Jibe Platform includes a hosted cloud for individual operators to launch RCS services for all leading mobile operating systems and the Jibe Hub to interconnect operator RCS networks.

For more information on Google’s support for RCS (including the Android RCS client) visit jibe.google.com/contact-us. For more information on the GSMA’s work with Global Operators and RCS (including the profile alignment) visithttp://www.gsma.com/network2020/all-ip-news/.

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