Hardware and software diversity are often quoted as Android’s major benefits over iOS, but while billions of people certainly appreciate being able to choose how much they want to pay for what type of smartphone specifications, choice can sometimes be a bad thing too. At least for Google, which has always had trouble building traction around its various messaging services released over the years.
After Hangouts, Allo is being essentially left for dead as well, despite making its debut less than two years ago. You can keep using the IM app for the time being, and there’s no clear indication the thing will be altogether discontinued in the near future. But it’s probably best to make a clean break as soon as possible, with all work on Allo’s development “paused” effective immediately, and the entire team in charge of the project reassigned.
Its new task is not to try to build yet another complex, ultimate Android rival for Apple’s hugely successful iMessage platform, but rather focus on expanding the capabilities of the operating system’s existing default texting app. We’re talking about the aptly titled Android Messages service, which is far more popular than Allo and Hangouts anyway.
More importantly, Google wants a universal technology called “Chat” to fix everything that’s wrong with the antiquated SMS standard. As confusing as it may sound, this is not a new app aimed at challenging the likes of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but merely an alternative, simpler name for the so-called “Universal Profile” that’s been in the works for several years now.
RCS, aka Rich Communication Services, will ultimately replace and improve SMS on phones and carriers around the world, with a whopping 55 global mobile network operators and 11 OEMs already supporting Google’s initiative and agreeing to adopt the Chat standard. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when that might happen on networks like AT&T and Verizon.