Free “SMS killer” created by Google has earned worldwide

In most countries around the world, all interested owners of new Android smartphones have access to RCS messaging technology, which Google is pushing as a substitute for the obsolete SMS standard.

Friday, November 20, 2020, 1:41 GMT

Global Google RCS Launch
Google has made its RCS (Rich Networking Services) innovative messaging technologies open to Android smartphone users around the globe. In Google’s proprietary Messages app, support intended to replace the SMS protocol is introduced.

Users will also send messages over the Phone, hold group chats, display the status of messages (‘read’), share high-quality pictures and videos, etc. That is, an analog of a messenger like Whatsapp, Viber or Telegram has become the standard Android program for sending and receiving SMS / MMS.

Drew Rauni (Drew Rowny) from November 19, 2020 Messages program users in most countries of the world will take advantage of RCS, even if it is not sponsored by the service provider technology, according to the head of a corporate blog Messages product. In this situation, Google’s subsidiary Jibe Mobile can provide the gateway feature. The service is free, but reconfiguring the program would be required for its connection.

Google started rolling out RCS in phases in the fall of 2019, as a reminder. The technology is available free of charge to Android devices in the United States beginning November 14, 2019.

Not available in Russia

It is currently impractical to use Google RCS to circumvent network operators in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Cuba, taking into account the service coverage chart provided on the Google help portal.

At the same time, in Russia, MTS has sponsored a comparatively new messaging protocol since November 2020, for example, but it is still available only to owners of a small number of Samsung smartphones.

Local telecoms providers in China are developing their own communications technology called 5G Texts, which as the name implies, runs on networks of the fifth generation.

Support for end-to-end encryption

Security researchers have found several problems with RCS implementations, as undercode previously reported. The lack of end-to-end (E2E) encryption of distributed messages (for example, in Apple iMessage) is one of the key drawbacks of the technology, as a consequence of which third parties can access the communications of individual users.

Google has pledged the inclusion of end-to-end security in its own RCS implementation from the moment the program starts to roll out. On November 19, 2020, in the Messages app trial, the company revealed E2E support. It will be open to a select number of users in November and will begin to be reviewed in 2021. Initially, it can encrypt only internal communications – group chats will be vulnerable.

And what is the RCSS?

RCS (Rich Communication Services) is a communication protocol created by the GSM association in 2008 between mobile operators, as well as between operators and smartphones.

RCS allows not only sharing individual texts, but also chatting with two or more people, exchanging files and content, allowing audio and video calls, exchanging geo-location data, sending audio messages, holding a black list, unlike the obsolete SMS – it was first tested back in 1992.

Due to the large number of members of the GSM association and the many disagreements between them, the single protocol standard – RCS Universal Profile 1.0, was adopted only in 2016. Advanced Email, Advanced Messages, Joyn, Reply + and SMS + are also recognized as the standard.

Google does not define a particular timeframe for all users to roll out end-to-end encryption support in the Messages app.
In the early versions of the Android OS and in the Windows family since version 8, Google and Microsoft have provided full support for RCS. The standard is not supported by Apple computers.

In 2016, 47 operators and 11 equipment suppliers, including Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, HTC, Asus, Alcatel, and others, joined the project with the introduction of the first version of the RCS Universal Profile 1.0.

In November 2015, Russian operators formed the All IP Interconnect Russia working group in partnership with the GSM Organization, whose mission was to implement IMS, VoLTE and RCS technologies.

Google managed to recruit the assistance of 55 operators by April 2018, including all the leaders of Russia’s Major Four – MTS, Beeline, Megafon and Tele2.