RCS gains momentum, AT&T makes Google Messages the default on Android

Google Messages Hero
Google Messages Hero (Image credit: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Messages will be the default messaging app on AT&T Android smartphones.
  • This is likely to fuel the use of RCS messaging on Android after a slow initial rollout.
  • The announcement comes months after T-Mobile pledged to make Google Messages the default.

Google's push for RCS continues as AT&T commits to making Google Messages the default messaging app on its Android smartphones.

David Christopher, the executive vice president and general manager of AT&T Mobility, says that the company looks forward to "working closely with Google to extend these benefits to even more of our customers as they enjoy richer conversations with others around the world."

The announcement comes months after T-Mobile announced its own partnership with Google, including offering more of the best Android phones on its network and making Google Messages the default.

Samsung also pushes for RCS on its devices and makes Google Messages a more native experience on its Galaxy S21 family of smartphones.

The announcement makes Verizon, the largest U.S. carrier, the only holdout.

U.S. carriers have previously pushed for RCS adoption but went about it separately from Google after it spearheaded the initiative by rolling it out on Google Messages. AT&T had its own version of RCS that was only available on select devices, but the carriers lacked interoperability between their disparate implementations. For a while, it seemed RCS would go nowhere because the carriers wanted to do it on their own.

At one point, things seemed to look up as the carriers created a joint initiative away from Google to create their own cross-carrier RCS messaging app. Unfortunately, nothing came of it, and the initiative was recently abandoned as Google continued to push for RCS adoption through its Google Messages app.

At the time, Verizon stated that the carriers "remain committed to enhancing the messaging experience for customers including growing the availability of RCS." This suggests that the company may also be open to partnering with Google, although the company has yet to respond when asked.

With AT&T's push, more Android users will have access to some of its best features like reactions, higher-quality images, and end-to-end encryption.

Of course, the next big hurdle will be to get iPhones to adopt the standard and move away from SMS.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.