A new, richer form of mobile phone messaging is being slowly rolled out by network providers. Called RCS (Rich Communication Services), it has been in development for 10 years and is intended to replace the SMS (Short Message Service) system which has been in use since 1992.
RCS is a new online protocol that was selected for adoption by the GSM Association in 2008 – a wide body of organizations in the mobile industry, including device, software and internet companies. Because of the number of powerful players involved, it took until 2016 to reach agreement on what makes an acceptable standard.
RCS will add a lot more multimedia capabilities to messaging, ranging from the usual simple texts to longer messages with large attachments, like GIFs and high-resolution images and videos – already features of Apple’s iMessage app, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Google’s Android platform has been without a default messaging application capable of such sophistication, which explains why the tech giant is such a strong supporter of RCS and so keen to see it implemented industry-wide.