Google could finally challenge WhatsApp with new SMS platform

Sergio loves texting
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We are here at Mobile World Congress busy writing hands-on reviews and talking to representatives from the most interesting tech brands. While MWC continues, and manufacturers try to shout over each other about their upcoming technology, Google had a brilliant idea: revolutionize SMS. 

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When was the last time you sent a text message? Probably when you were traveling abroad or texting with a business contact. Nobody really sends messages via SMS anymore, and Google knows it. Thanks to apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, which allow you to send not only text messages but also photos, videos and group messages for free (minus the data), SMS usage is decreasing.

texting app
Google will change the future of SMS / © ANDROIDPIT

Google is working on reviving the SMS in collaboration with about 800 operators around the world, according to a report by Quartz. We have seen many dedicated text messaging apps fail in their efforts to reignite our interest, but this is not just a face-lift of its SMS app, it's a fundamental change. By partnering with so many worldwide operators, Google wants to create a universal RCS client used by all GSMA operators. 

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services, which is a fancy way of indicating a client is not only allowed to send text messages and MMS but can share emoji, files, create group chats and even disclose to the sender when the recipient has received and read the message.

Sound familiar? There's a reason for that. In short, Google wants to create a new SMS platform that will include all of the features of WhatsApp. 

sms smartphone
Google plans on reviving the SMS / © ANDROIDPIT

But how will Google's app outperform the competition? The advantages it will have is that it will become part of the Google family and therefore eventually be pre-installed on all Android devices, and that it will work around the world and with different operators.

With that in mind, it's possible that Google might challenge WhatsApp, but whether it can topple it is another matter. 

There are no details about the cost involved in such a messaging platform yet either. We imagine that operators will have to start offering attractive SMS packages again, instead of focusing on data packets and ultra fast internet access. 

Will WhatsApp remain the king of messaging or can Google overthrow it? Make your views heard in the comments.

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  • Antonie S. Feb 28, 2016 Link to comment

    I've also been using WhatsApp since shortly after it became available. Then too many people and places tried moving into WhatsApp via Groups and Broadcast messages. I hate these Broadcast stuff, as other can force communication down my throat without much option - until I learnt I could simply remove their number from my phone and I'm out of the Broadcast.
    I also noticed how often and sometimes quickly people left groups, coming down to other experiencing similar as me.
    Then lately, either people have blocked their read receipts or switched off their data - but I found WhatsApp to be wanting of late. Thus, I moved back to SMS for some communications that "must" be received and will welcome RCS then.

  • BruinGuy Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    "Nobody really sends messages via SMS anymore"
    It's poor form for an author to assume that they know what their readership is doing. It's even poorer form for a tech author to think that they represent the real world. It calls the entire article's credibility into account. My family, my coworkers and business associates communicate almost entirely on SMS. It's the real world in the U.S. where text messaging is free to almost everyone.

    • Raffaele Silletti Apr 27, 2017 Link to comment

      There was a time earlyer 90's when all over the world were using sms but in north America didn't exist yet maybe because operators still had interest in selling pagers with their plans . Now as the author says no one send sms anymore, except in certain areas were still havent realized that sms like as well mms is an old technology limited buy many things including the numbers of charachters.

  • Mark G. Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    I must be a lonely sole, I have no need for WhatsApp or similar, I still use good old sms. Though if I need to send a picture or any attachment I'll use Google photos/drive.

    For me it makes sense to have a proper txt/mms over Internet service which is integrated on my excellent Samsung Galaxy S5.

    Peace ✌

  • Dean L. Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    Well I'm not clear why this is news, but apparently not all carriers are in with messaging. With my carrier, verizon, I have unlimited text and messaging (which includes photos and videos). I to don't see or understand the benefits of using an app and service like whatsapp, but maybe I need to. And I truly don't believe I need to have another pre-installed app on my device.

  • Claudio Gallo Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    So let's analyze the "advantages" of this approach:
    * "pre-installed on all Android devices": So preinstallation is the bar here? How is that different from hangouts, to name one? Also, this won't be the case for not-android phones (yes, I heard they exist).
    * " it will work around the world and with different operators". Unlike the internet? wtf? how is this an advantage over existing solutions?

    now let's see cons:

    * Controlled by Operators: This means that if your operator is not in there, you can't communicate with anyone. Sure most will join, but you only need an Internet connection (all have them right now) to use any other solution. Also, do you need another point to battle over with your provider? I don't think so.
    * Back to depend on Phone number as your identity: so new number means you have to update all your contacts on the new number or they won't reach you. I know whatsapp also depends on phone numbers (and that's why I don't like it either). I want an ID of my chossing that I can use on any terminal (and also not limited to phones). That's why I find hangouts so much stronger that this one or even whatsapp... (Let the basing start).
    * It doesn't add ANY IMPROVEMENT: In the end... do we need this? I don't see any real benefit from using a new messaging solution. Existing ones cover all basis you might need... Why bother developing a new one? Is it just another aproach to try and take on whatsapp? I think we're getting somewhere now.

    • Restin Pees Mar 23, 2017 Link to comment

      One advantage would be that it uses a very simple and elegant telecommunications architecture that is reliable and available from almost any mobile phone. For example, in Cuba it is difficult to find a data connection over the cellular network as only analog exists in many locations. For a tourist or visitor, access to the Internet generally requires going to a hotel or rare cafe for a fairly low speed, unreliable and expensive connection.
      Many parts of the world have telephone service only because cellular mobile phone infrastructure is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of stringing thousands of miles of poles and wires. Just as in other globalization development, much of the equipment can be obsolete electronics from developed countries.
      Even in the continental US, where we have thousands of empty square miles between small populated areas, I find myself occasionally with only 900 mhz analog service which generally enjoys greater range and reliability. Even when voice communication is impossible because or signal reliability or network saturation, an SMS message can get through. I've had similar experiences on the Big Island of Hawaii.
      Maybe your grandchildren will be able to echo your comment without there being a significant reason to object, but today it reflects a limited understanding of the world outside the bedrooms of the Asperger Army.

  • Peter Harwood Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    here in the UK you get charged 40 pence for sending a photo

  • Claudio Gallo Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    I'm not one to badmouth on news, but this is the stupidest idea ever.
    Not only it doesn't improve at all on the existing solutions, but it gets back to some of the issues that mobile messaging use to have.

    I'm sure they would try to impose them on you with (unlawful) tactics like: RCS Messages will not count toward your Internet data limit.

    But I don't see any real advantage.

    Shame on you Google.

  • Bjarke Feb 24, 2016 Link to comment

    Funny thing, most carriers in Denmark offers free sms and mms. Sms is still the prefered way to send texts in DK.

  • Peter Harwood Feb 23, 2016 Link to comment

    no wonder people don't send mms messages any more because they cost to much?

  • Alberto Feb 23, 2016 Link to comment

    I really do think Google should have something like imessage from apple, and that thing shouldn't be hangouts, which I personally find awful.

  • Luka Feb 23, 2016 Link to comment

    I don't understand what people see in WhatsApp when Viber has much more options and it's free (yeah WA is too but only since a month or two)

    • Alberto Feb 23, 2016 Link to comment

      To be honest I used to prefer viber, but since it started to have too many emojis and those public chats I kinda lost interest. I think the app is not as fast as it was and it crashes sometimes.
      I think Whatsapp never crashed with me, and the other thing is the amount of people using it.

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