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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
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

6 Comments
  • Nope. Not until Google Messages works the way it should with Galaxy Watches.
  • "Verizon stated that the carriers "remain committed to enhancing the messaging experience for customers including growing the availability of RCS." (And we will do so just as soon as we figure out how to squeeze more money out of people with our implementation.) How many years do they need! Guaranteed if they could make money from this it would have rolled out years ago.
  • They will make the switch when Google cuts them a huge check
  • I wonder how much Google paid ATT for the privilege of having everyone's text go through their servers so they can read/record/sell.
  • This is what I don't get, what does Google get out of RCS? If the mobile network takes over it, then as far as i know the messages don't touch Googles servers. I am not sure what providers support RCS in the U.K, i think Vodafone does, but i have no idea about any other. I am with a provider called smarty, which is owned by Three and it is not available via them, only via Google. I do not use RCS myself, I use a text app called textra and that don't support RCS as far as i know.
  • I think that is the issue.
    Carriers are not coming to an agreement on RCS so Google rolled its own and that does use their servers. This is why RCS works on Google Messages when both sender and receiver are using the app.