The RCS 'hack' showed us what Google could make happen for Android users if the carriers weren't in the way

RCS chat
RCS chat (Image credit: Android Central)

We all love the latest RCS hack for Android Messages, but it has begun its inevitable death spiral. When I saw you needed to use a beta version of the app and configure it to use a Google sandbox server I knew it would happen eventually. And I knew another thing: it showed every user who tried it how much better messaging on Android could be if carriers did not suck so hard.

That's the thing, too. Sprint and Google Fi users who only message other Sprint and Google Fi users know how great "real" RCS is. The same can be said for Verizon users who only talk to other Verizon users via the Verizon Messages + or whatever it's called app. The list goes on, and so does what every entry on it has in common — carrier interference.

At least carriers aren't still trying to sell us "text bundles" for $10 a month. For now.

I write many harsh words about U.S. carriers, mostly centered around the big four (soon to be the big three) but not everything they do is bad. Unfortunately, the way each is handling full universal profile RCS is an absolute shit sandwich. Even Sprint, who used to be the RCS good guy, is part of the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative which mentions a dedicated app and special incentives that will make businesses want to text you. "$10 off tanning sessions if you get our Feel-Good peidcure!" is not a text that needs stickers or live links.

More: Carriers team up to find a way to profit from RCS with the CCMI

I'm the first to say that Google could stiffen its backbone and say screw the carriers then proceed to make RCS over Android Messages live for everyone. But I'm also the first to say Google can't do that because burning bridges is not how you run a successful company. Google has to smoothly get carriers to understand the benefits of RCS and how it means more money — that's what really matters and no matter how many tummy rubs Google could give carrier execs, they would never listen until they hear the word profit. That's how comapnies get in the position where revenue is measured in billions and it will never change.

But we know how things could be. We have used RCS done almost right and we liked what we saw. It wasn't WhatsApp or iMessage or Twitter DMs or anything of the sort. It was texting done in a way that made texting really good. Now the onus is on the carriers to either explain to us why this can't just happen or to give in and allow it to happen.

My bet is that they do neither and continue to discuss how difficult things are and why they need another year or more to do what Google just did. And when 2021 rolls around and they try to charge us $10 per month for it, remember this. I know I will.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.