Chat is Google's industry-backed answer to Apple iMessage

Google's communication services are a mess, and that's describing it nicely. It has made multiple attempts, some of which continue to exist independently, to offer the best messaging platform ever. Almost all of those have failed miserably. Why can't Google just make a straight out iMessage clone? Well, it could but it's choosing not to do so. Instead, it is trying to push for a more industry-supported messaging standard that it will simply be calling "Chat". Not "Google Chat", just "Chat".

iMessage is widely praised for the simplicity of its execution. It supports the popular features of instant messaging, like rich multimedia content and even games, but falls back to good old SMS if the situation isn't ideal. But the best part about it is that users don't even have to worry about all that as it magically happens in the background. That is, if everyone you chat with also uses iMessage.

It's not difficult for Google to do something like that. All its messaging apps and services so far have had similar features. Google's hesitation, however, comes from a more ideological reason. Apple iMessage works because Apple controls everything to the exclusion of everyone else. It is, therefore, antithetical to Android's spirit.

Google's strategy is almost cunning. Instead of trying to strike out on its own and play catch up with Apple, it is pushing for a new industry standard instead. Called Rich Communication Services, this standard would provide all the features common in proprietary messaging services but still provides SMS as a fallback, just like iMessage. But as a standard that has to be implemented at the network level, it means everyone gets to use it, not just Google or Android. It all depends on carriers implementing it and client apps to use it. And judging by the names of those supporting RCS and Chat, it's going to be almost everyone. In short, if it really takes off, it will be Apple who will have to implement Chat in order to be compatible with everyone else.

Google has supposedly "paused" work on its other messaging services, like Allo, to focus on Chat. It's still working on some expected features that will pave the way for Chat. Like, for example, Android Messages for Web picture above. But while RCS and Chat sounds like the one messaging service to rule them all, it does come with one inherent flaw. Like SMS, it is susceptible to invasions of privacy. Google and friends need to resolve this concern if Chat is to really take root in this increasingly privacy-conscious age.

VIA: The Verge