As part of the 2016 Mobile World Congress trade show, Google announced a partnership with a number of wireless carriers, and the GSM Association, to help extend the adoption of the Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging standard. RCS is basically a next-generation version of carrier messaging standards like SMS and MMS, with more advanced features.
The carriers that have partnered with Google and the GSMA on this venture include América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom, and Vodafone. The GSMA stated:
By aligning on a universal RCS profile, mobile operators will be able to deploy a consistent RCS implementation, feature set, and configuration. The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling consumers to access RCS services on their devices. Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.
Google previously acquired Jibe Mobile, an early leader in developing the RCS standard. There's no word on when the Android RCS client will be released.