Back in the old days, we were happy if we could start or accept a call or send and receive limited SMS text messages on our mobile devices. However, when smartphones entered the stage everything changed, leading to the age of Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp, and many more. But even still, calls and SMS/MMS messages were basically left untouched since their introduction – and that’s why RCS is such a brilliant, revolutionary step in the evolution of telecommunications.
What Is RCS and Why Is It So Good?
RCS stands for Rich Communication Services (often named Advanced Communications) and is a communication protocol between mobile phone carriers or between a phone and carrier that replaces traditional SMS/MMS messaging and calling with a system similar to Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger. It basically employs all of the benefits that such systems are capable of including, but not limited to, a better contact list, an improved messaging system with instant chat, emojis and data sharing, and the advantages of VoIP like video calling and real-time data sharing.
You might be wondering why you need this if you can already download popular apps that already offer such benefits? Well, this is the key: RCS encompasses everything detailed above, meaning your phone becomes capable of features typically exclusive to messaging apps or WebRTCs (browser-based real-time communication protocols). In other words, by default your mobile device will have the exact same attributes that are often only present in business-grade mobile messaging applications such as Glip by RingCentral.
RCS in Action
Where Is RCS Currently Used?
As is often the case, the biggest obstacle blocking the spreading of RCS is the stubbornness of the mobile carriers because they still listen to the old corporate logic: introduce it only if it has business potential for you. That’s why RCS is only available for T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint users in the U.S. – with only Sprint fully supporting the technology. The problem is that if carriers don’t fully support RCS then you will still need to continue to rely on the manufacturers of the devices you use.
Thankfully, device level support is way better than carrier support. Even though iOS, Android, Macs and Windows 10 fully support RCS technology, at the moment the only app that is capable of uniting the powers of regular (SMS/MMS) and instant messaging is iMessage and FaceTime, only available for iOS devices and Macs running OS X Mountain Lion and beyond.
Google is not far behind: the company already has an RCS-capable messaging platform, Hangouts, but it requires users to be using Project Fi or have a Google Voice number to be able to use it as a true RCS platform. However, after the acquisition of Jibe Mobile – which has since been rechristened as Android Messages – Google has decided to rebrand Hangouts as a corporate tool, making this service its primary RCS app to provide users with the same experience that Apple fans have with iMessage.
In conclusion, the RCS revolution that will bring with it all of the benefits of a new messaging experience is right around the corner and, with the power of Google and Apple driving the technology forwards, it won’t take long for carriers to realize the potential behind this new technology.
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