Beginning next year, Verizon will join AT&T and T-Mobile in preloading Android Messages as the default texting app on all Android phones it sells. It’s the final step for making RCS Chat — the next-gen standard designed to replace SMS — the default experience for Android. In the US, that only leaves one large cohort that will not use RCS as a default SMS replacement: iPhone users.
Verizon has also said it will fully support interoperability between carriers, so in theory the improved images, video, read receipts, and group chats should just work — assuming everybody you’re texting with is also using Android Messages.
Verizon was the last of the big three US carriers to get on board with Google’s latest strategy to push RCS as the new default for texting. After years of cajoling, shaming, and downright pleading, the company has made deals with carriers to simply use the standard Android Messages app, which supports RCS by default.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome OS, and the Play Store, is quick to note that end-to-end encryption for RCS inside Android Messages is also in the process of rolling out. It’s available for “peer-to-peer” chats (i.e. a chat with one other person), but group chats are on the roadmap as well.
Default, end-to-end encrypted chats between Android phones raise an interesting conundrum for Apple. Next year, texts between Android phones and iPhones will be less secure than texts within those two…