From 2022, Verizon will begin preloading Google Messages as the default SMS and RCS messaging app on all Android phones sold by the US carrier.

Announced today, Verizon will join AT&T and T-Mobile in adopting the RCS for interoperability between all major US carriers. This now means that the three largest US mobile carriers will soon adopt the Universal Profile and ensure that all video, image, and text content is consistent and trouble-free when using an Android device on the networks.

Messages by Google will be preloaded, starting next year, on all Verizon Android devices, enabling consumers to enjoy rich messaging features, such as sending and receiving higher-quality photos and videos, chatting over Wi-Fi or data, knowing when your message is read, enjoying more dynamic and engaging group chats, and securely chatting with other Messages users in available one-on-one conversations with end-to-end encryption.

RCS messaging provides end-to-end encrypted chats, the ability to send larger video and media files, with other features such as message reactions and typing indicators. Verizon was initially the last holdout with its own implementation of RCS messaging via a standalone app — although you could still use Google Messages regardless of this. By adopting Google Messages as the default, Verizon will ensure that no incompatibility issues affect those taking out plans on the firm’s network. The downside? It will use Verizon’s infrastructure rather than Google’s:

Through this collaboration, Messages will work with Verizon’s network and RCS messaging service to provide a seamless experience for Android users. In addition, Google will work with Verizon to provide a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem using RCS.

Speaking to The Verge, Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome OS and the Play Store Hiroshi Lockheimer touts the “more secure” nature of RCS when Google Messages is used as the “default messaging experience.” This does, however, leave one last holdout in the equation for the wide adoption of the RCS protocol — Apple. While iMessage no doubt dominates, it’s unclear for how much longer the Cupertino firm can continue to favor the less secure SMS for message fallback if RCS is unavailable.

While this is all excellent news for RCS and the Android owners everywhere, Verizon won’t be making Google Messages the default messaging app until 2022. Until then, the janky third-party implementation looks set to cause no end of confusion for those on the “Big Red” network.

Verizon also confirmed that customers currently or still using Verizon’s Message+ app will also get full access to RCS capabilities with Google Messages by the end of the year, including embedded high-res pictures and videos, real-time conversation notifications, animated GIFs and more.

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