Rogers Communication is the first Canadian telco to team-up with Google to offer Rich Communication Services, or RCS, to its customers. The upgrade of Google Messenger started in the United States last month with Sprint Corporation and is now available through a second carrier, Rogers, here in Canada.
“We’re beginning to roll out the enhanced messaging experience today, and it will be available to all Rogers customers soon,” writes Amir Sarhangi, Google’s head of RCS, who says that Rogers will be preloading RCS Messenger as the standard messaging app for the new Android devices in 2017. “We’ve committed to working with carriers and manufacturers to upgrade SMS to a more enhanced messaging experience for people everywhere,” says Sarhangi.
RCS is text messaging on a level with IP-based messaging systems such as Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessage, which means that users can chat and instant message, group chat, use live video as well as high-resolution photo- and file-sharing. The move by Google and carriers like Sprint and Rogers is seen as a nod to the ubiquity and staying power of text messaging – the quick, portable, emoticon-spouting platform that has become one of the most dominant media for today’s communication.
Google aims to push more telecom companies into making the switch from their own RCS platforms to theirs, stating that RCS Messenger will launch with more partners over the next few months.
“We’re excited to provide a better messaging experience to Canadians, and look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months,” says Sarhangi.
Last month, Samsung acquired Canada-based NewNet Communication Technologies (NewNet Canada), a company operating RCS service. The company is touted as a leading provider of RCS infrastructure and services. “This acquisition is a critical milestone not just for Samsung but also for the communications industry,” says Samsung in a news release. “It will accelerate the deployment of RCS-enabled networks, providing consumers with a ubiquitous standards-based messaging and communications platform.”
The company said the acquisition will also allow mobile operators who don’t already have their own RCS infrastructure to use Samsung’s own version. A Halifax-based company, NewNet Canada will continue to operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. “Unlike other messaging apps in the market, users will be able to communicate on any network, with an RCS-enabled device as well as SMS-only devices,” says Samsung.
More development in the quick messaging sector involves Snapchat which today introduced Group Chat, allowing users of the popular photo-sharing app to communicate with up to 16 friends at once. “Groups can be created while sending a Snap, or when you’re making a new Chat,” reads a statement from the company. Any chats that are sent to a Group will be deleted by default after 24 hours and snaps go away once they’re viewed.
Snapchat has also brought out a couple of new tools, Scissors and Paintbrush, to help users creatively dress up their Snaps.