The RCS Messaging Thing Is Working Out as Well as I Expected, Which Is to Say Terribly

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

All four major US carriers — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint — have each issued the same joint press release announcing the formation of “a joint venture” called the “Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative” (CCMI). It’s designed to ensure that the carriers move forward together to replace SMS with a next-generation messaging standard — including a promise to launch a new texting app for Android phones that supports the standard by next year.

Yes, an Android-only app created by a consortium of the four U.S. carriers will surely be a good app, and will surely succeed worldwide.

Google was unable to immediately provide comment on the CCMI. That in and of itself is telling — as is the fact that the word “Google” appears precisely zero times in the carriers’ press release.

Bodes really well for the quality of that Android app.

If you’re not familiar with all the ins and outs of RCS, let’s quickly catch up. There are four critical problems with RCS:

  1. Not enough carriers have adopted it.
  2. Those that have adopted it sometimes did so without adhering to the international standard for interoperability called the “Universal Profile”.
  3. It is not end-to-end encrypted, so it’s easy for governments to demand the contents of text messages sent using it.
  4. Apple has had precisely zero to say about it, which everybody has interpreted as code for “lol we have iMessage good luck with that RCS thing bye!”

1 and 2 can be fixed by time and effort. 3 sucks but SMS isn’t encrypted either. Ideally an SMS successor would be E2E, but I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker that it isn’t. 4, though, is a deal-breaker. The role of SMS as the standard platform/carrier-independent mobile messaging system isn’t going to change if Apple doesn’t support RCS.

Saturday, 26 October 2019