TECH
23/04/2018 15:52 BST

Google Is Replacing SMS With New 'Chat' Instant-Messaging Service

Here's everything you need to know about Chat and when it's arriving in the UK.

Sending a text message (SMS) sucks.

There’s no nice way of saying it, which is why Google has been working with companies all over the world to kill the now ancient technology once and for all.

Well here we are, some two years since Google first announced its intention, and starting this year SMS is going to be killed off and replaced with a brand-new instant-messaging technology called simply Chat.

AFP Contributor via Getty Images

That’s right, the days of seeing that green bubble on your iPhone every time you try and text someone on Android could soon be a thing of the past.

Revealed in an exclusive feature by The Verge, Chat will allow you to send high-resolution images, stickers, videos and it won’t count towards your text message limits. Instead it will work just like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage, however unlike these apps it has real potential to become the largest messaging platform on the planet.

To help you prepare for the death of SMS we’ve pulled together everything we know about Chat including what devices it will work on, when it’s expected to roll out in the UK and more.

What is Chat?

Chat, also known as Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a brand-new instant-messaging technology that will replace text messages in the next 12-months.

What makes it so clever is that it uses all the same existing technologies that make SMS function, so you won’t need a new phone or even a new app.

Instead Chat will simply be ‘turned on’ in the background so one day you’ll be sending standard text messages and the next it will have automatically switched over to Chat.

Google

Google describes Chat as being very similar to the messaging experience you have on WhatsApp or iMessage. You’ll be able to see when messages have been sent and read and even see when people are typing.

You’ll also be able to create group chats, send stickers as well as images and videos in their original high-quality format.

Which phones will work with Chat?

Almost all of them. Some of the most popular Android manufacturers have already signed up including Samsung, Huawei, Alcatel, Motorola, LG, HTC and of course Google’s own Pixel phones.

Android will of course support RCS being as this entire endeavour is its brainchild. Microsoft have also confirmed that its operating system will also support RCS although we have absolutely no idea what that could mean.

GSMA

Apple are the only major operating system that has not made any comment on Chat. This should come as no surprise at all, however don’t despair straight away.

For starters the amount of text messages still sent today is frankly staggering and unless Apple does support it the company runs the risk of becoming the green bubble for several billion smartphone users who don’t have an iPhone.

Rather than run that risk it’s extremely likely that Apple will support the standard at some point in the future.

When is Chat launching?

A very good question. If The Verge’s interview is anything to go by then Chat is expected to start rolling out over the next 12-18 months across the globe.

So while we don’t have an exact date in the UK, we do know that all the UK’s major networks (EE, O2, Vodafone, Three) are all partners so will support Chat when it does launch.

The best thing about Chat is that when it does launch you won’t have to do a single thing.

hocus-focus via Getty Images

Instead you’ll be able to just start typing to other phones that support it and instantly notice the difference. If you try and send a message to a phone that doesn’t support Chat then it will simply revert back to an SMS in much the same way that iMessage does when you try and send something from an iPhone to an Android phone.

Finally (and this is important)...

Now this is perhaps the one major downside of Chat. Chat is not end-to-end encrypted.

That means that should governments or hackers want to see your messages there’s a risk that they could access them through the servers of your network.

If you want to make sure your messages are completely secured then we would still recommend using an app like iMessage for iPhone users or Signal and WhatsApp.