AT&T Is Switching To Google's Jibe Platform For RCS On Android And It's About Time

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It's a running gag that Google has too many messaging clients, but the core of its messaging strategy on Android is RCS. This service, sometimes branded simply as "Chat," relies on servers to relay messages, but not all carriers use the same ones. AT&T has been rolling its own RCS platform for the last few years, but it's now switching to Google's Jibe, which should make AT&T's advanced messaging more reliable.

RCS (or Rich Communication Services) is a replacement for SMS, adding modern features like longer messages, high-resolution photos and videos, read receipts, Wi-Fi messaging, and more. To get those features in your messaging app, you have to register your phone number with the RCS server. Initially, it was expected that carriers would handle the servers, but their early efforts to built incompatible walled gardens convinced Google to get involved. Google's Jibe servers have almost become the standard with AT&T's latest move.

Like T-Mobile, AT&T decided to launch RCS with its own messaging servers. However, T-Mobile partnered with Google to make its RCS fully compatible with other implementations, and it even switched to Jibe for some phones. AT&T, however, has gained a reputation for buggy RCS support, with messages delayed or missing entirely when sent to users on other RCS servers. The switch to Jibe should make messaging more reliable, whether texting someone else on AT&T or on another carrier.

Google's Android lead, Hiroshi Lockheimer, announced the news on Twitter. He notes that AT&T customers will get access to new RCS features "instantly" via the Jibe platform. With AT&T's version, they would have to wait for the carrier to port in new RCS features. Messaging with Apple users is still a pain, despite Google's frequent needling of the iPhone maker. Since the iPhone uses iMessage instead of RCS for advanced features, messaging iPhone folks is like going back in time 20 years. Google has implemented a few RCS features to make that less frustrating, and now AT&T subscribers will get those features as soon as they're ready.

It's unclear if existing phones will switch over to the new platform. AT&T has only confirmed that all new devices will connect to Jibe. This should all be automatic—the Google Messages app will ask if you want to connect to RCS, but you won't have to pick a server. You can check your messaging provider in the Google Messages settings. At the bottom of the Chat section, the app will list either AT&T or Jibe Mobile (Google) as the provider.
Tags:  Android, Google, at&t, rcs