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T-Mobile and Google partner to bring universal RCS messaging to T-Mobile, Metro users

Google’s initiative to bring RCS to every Android user has been a slow process, but it’s expanded quite a lot, even just in the past few months. Today, T-Mobile has announced a partnership with Google to bring RCS to every Android user on T-Mobile and Metro.

In a press release, T-Mobile explains that it was the first to bring RCS messaging to the US, but that was in a very limited rollout. That rollout also didn’t work with other RCS implementations, including Google’s.

In the time since, RCS has become more prevalent, thanks in large part to Google’s efforts through the Messages app. With that app, Google rolled out RCS to any Android user who wanted it last year.

Now, T-Mobile is working to expand RCS to all of its Android users with a standard that works across carriers and apps. The Universal Profile is the standard Google has been pushing for Android users for the past few years now, and T-Mobile is using that expertise to roll out compatibility to its entire network and making the implementation based on the Universal Profile, just like Google’s. That means T-Mobile users will get RCS that works across networks, so long as those other networks do the same thing.

T-Mobile says that users on its network won’t have to download another app to get RCS. Instead, they’ll be built into the network and the messaging app on the device. Currently, there are apparently 40 devices that work with RCS on T-Mobile and Metro under this new partnership, but T-Mobile “aims” to further expand that.

T-Mobile has become the first in the world to implement a full standards-based RCS Universal Profile 1.0 interconnect with Google’s Messages service. That’s a fancy way of saying that T-Mobile Android customers with capable smartphones get RCS with Android users on other networks, too.

Capable Android customers on T-Mobile’s network won’t have to do anything or download an over-the-top app to get RCS features — they’re built right into T-Mobile’s network and natively into the phone’s messaging app. Today, nearly 40 T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile smartphone models are ready to share RCS messages with Android users on other networks and T-Mobile is aiming to bring this capability to all RCS-enabled smartphones.

Based on T-Mobile’s press release, it sounds like Google Messages is a core part of this new strategy, but T-Mobile clarified to 9to5Google that this network rollout will work on the native messaging app on these smartphones. As T-Mobile said, users won’t need to download another app. However, we’re still curious what this means for devices such as the OnePlus 8 which doesn’t ship with an RCS-compatible native messaging app.

We’re also curious what this means for the CCMI, an initiative from carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, which was supposed to be delivering RCS to Android users this year. We’re asking for clarification on that point.

More on RCS:

*Article updated based on clarification from T-Mobile

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