There is a new form of texting called RCS that could change the way we all use messaging. It’s backed by Google, and a St. Louis company called nativeMsg is working to pioneer its use.
Supporters of the technology say RCS, and the new, richer platform could change the way we use smartphones.
“Imagine having a phone with one app. And that one app was able to do everything you need to do,” said Michael Lamb, President and Co-Founder of St. Louis messaging firm nativeMsg.
Lamb says RCS allows the transfer of more data and the execution of more tasks, all within the realm of a single text message thread.
“Very much like an app-like experience but it’s inside the messaging channel,” Lamb says. “So you don’t have to download an app, or bounce back and forth between apps, to be able to get directions, check your balance, do any of those things. It can all happen inside of that messaging channel.”
One example he uses is called the Chicago Transit Bot, which his company built. Essentially you can text Chicago Transit for directions, and within the text conversation they can locate you, provide directions to where you’re going, show it to you on a map, and will eventually allow you to buy the ticket you need. You never change apps. It all happens within the text.
“I hit the Google Pay button and boom,” Lamb says. “Now I’ve just bought tickets inside the text messaging channel and I can have the tickets pushed to me and put them in my digital wallet. I can get directions, make a phone call, I can do any of those things.”
Lamb says there are advantages to RCS on the person to person side as well. Most notably, you’ll be able to send videos and much larger files via test rather than switching to email.
“With RCS you’re going to have videos,” he points out. “You’re going to have the ability to share your location. The ability to make a phone call. Schedule something on your calendar. Just much more rich media, more functionality.”
One of the giants of the tech industry is sold. Google sent their RCS Business Development Manager, Alex Allemand, to St. Louis to join Lamb in conducting a seminar on the subject. Allemand says getting cellular companies around the globe to adopt RCS has become a major priority for Google. The company has now built the capability into its Android operating system.
“We’ve worked with more than 65 or 70 partnerships across the globe with the main carriers worldwide,” Allemand says.
He told the group at St. Louis’ Innovation Hall that the company’s enthusiasm for RCS is simple: it gives greater ease to one of the world’s most prevalent forms of communication.
“We’ve worked with more than 65 or 70 partnerships across the globe with the main carriers worldwide,” he said.
So when might you see this on your phone? If you have a newer model smartphone running Android, Lamb says it may already be there. But only AT&T and Sprint are currently running it in the United States. It’s more prevalent right now in countries such as Mexico and Japan.
Then there is the 800-pound gorilla in most tech rooms. Apple has yet to adopt RCS as a messaging platform according to nativeMsg. From a global standpoint, that’s not such a roadblock. Google says Android controls 85% of the global market. But in the United States, Apple’s share is much larger, nearly 45% of the cell phone market.
But Lamb calls the possibilities endless, believing RCS technology has way too much upside for Apple to stay away. Research suggests that right now users spend about 85% of their time in five apps on their phone, including their messaging app. Cramming all those capabilities into one spot, he says, could completely change how we use smartphones.
“It’s basically unifying a lot of the different elements people are using on their phones right now into one place so you only have to go to one place,” Lamb says. “It really gives you a glimpse into the future of what global communications is going to look like.”