Another mobile service provider has now outlined a prioritization of Google's Messenger application as its default for text messaging, possibly signaling a trend toward a more unified Android ecosystem. Messenger is based on the rich communications services protocol (RCS) and the Canadian carrier Rogers Communications is the latest to implement it in that way – joining Sprint calling RCS the "future of messaging." Sprint's decision was announced in November of last year and although only a few devices were officially compatible at the time, more have since been added and are being added with relatively high frequency. Rogers Communications has indicated plans to have the RCS-based Google Messenger as its default pre-installed application for Android devices by 2018, but some customers saw RCS beginning to roll out as early as in December of last year.
RCS is a messaging protocol that was used in creating Messenger to allow the text messaging application functionality that is much closer to a web-based messenger application. It effectively allows for a more active connection between devices and networks to provide accurate typing indicators, more efficient group chats, larger media-file sharing, and several other enhancements. The protocol is comparatively new but has its foundation as part of the GSMA's Universal Profile, which is a push to create a more unified standard for messaging across different carriers. Although only Sprint and Rogers are actively pushing to make Messenger their default Android messaging app, dozens of carriers worldwide have signed onto the Universal Profile. The use of RCS in Google's Messenger application has made it a prime candidate to replace the more traditional SMS-based applications for text-based communications between Android devices and across those different carriers.
It has been said before that Google's decisions regarding applications that are part of its ecosystem are somewhat sporadic and almost appear to have no direction. A prime example of this is the existence of 3 separate messaging platforms that are all already in play from Google. Currently, the company has Messenger, Allo, and Hangouts. The latter has been rumored to be on the way out after focus for the Google Hangouts application was shifted to an enterprise focus last year. Allo is, of course, relatively new and still actively supported by Google. That said, if it was the company's plan to create a new and more universal default for Android text messaging, then Google may have succeeded but only time will tell.