Google has launched a free messaging service that will link up with text messages to rival WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage.
The messenger will be available on Android, the Google-owned operating system that runs almost every non-Apple smartphone on the market.
The new service, named Chat, works similarly to traditional SMS text messages but will notify senders when the recipient has read their message and show if they are typing, like many messaging apps.
But now according to the Verge, which obtained an exclusive interview with Google’s new head of its communications team, Anil Sabharwal, Google has taken the decision that due to the slow takeup of Allo, it is “pausing investment” in its consumer-facing messaging app.
The Allo workforce will reportedly be transferred to other projects and all resources will be moved to the Android Messages team.
And it seems that the Android Messages app will power the RCS platform that Google has been developing.
“Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS,” reported the Verge. “It’s going to be called “Chat,” and it’s based on a standard called the ‘Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.’”
So Chat is not just another messaging app, but instead it is a “carrier-based service” that will be turned on by default inside the Android Messages app (if your carrier supports it).
This means it will consume a person’s data plan, and not their SMS entitlement.
Chat will be going up against the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram, but surprisingly it will not offer end-to-end encryption, as it follows SMS-like legal intercept standards.
Sabharwal did stress that the arrival of Chat doesn’t mean that Allo will be shut down anytime soon, and he said that Google is “continuing to support the product.”
Google recently launched Hangouts Chat, an enterprise messaging app to take on Microsoft Teams and Slack.