More Android phones in the US will use Google Messages by default

More Android phones in the US will use Google Messages by default

Google Pixel 4a 5G in hand front of phone 2

David Imel / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • AT&T is making Google Messages the default chat app for all its Android phones.
  • The move could help boost RCS messaging in the US.

Google Messages — and crucially, RCS — is about to get a big boost in the US. Google has revealed that AT&T will make Messages the default chat app on all its Android phones in the US.

The move will give many AT&T users Wi-Fi messaging, higher-quality media attachments, typing indicators, drop-in-drop-out group chats, and end-to-end encryption for one-on-one messages (once it rolls out to more users).

The AT&T move comes roughly three months after T-Mobile made Messages the default app for its Android customers. Verizon (disclaimer: this author writes for Verizon’s Engadget) is the only major US carrier left that hasn’t set Messages as the standard app on Google-powered devices.

Read more: The best chat and messenger apps for Android

This shift won’t have a noticeable effect until more AT&T customers buy new phones with Messages set as the default. Still, it could significantly improve adoption for RCS technology that so far hasn’t lived up to its (unofficial) billings as a sequel to SMS and Android’s iMessage alternative. The need for carrier-by-carrier adoption, a lack of iPhone support, and inconsistent implementation have all limited uptake. You’re more likely to use Facebook Messenger than RCS.

It might also have arrived just in time. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon recently dropped an initiative meant to enable cross-carrier RCS messaging. While the networks all said they were still committed to supporting the technology, they didn’t say how they’d support the format. The AT&T maneuver might explain how — the carriers appear to be relying on Google Messages as the ‘glue’ that gets Android users on the same page.

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