Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint partner to make text messages as smart as iMessage


Smart messaging can work between iPhone and Android.

Angela Lang / CNET

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint said on Thursday that they have formed a joint project to "transform messages." On a rare note, all four major US carriers are working together on the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative, which will use the Rich Communications Service standard to make text messaging as smart as iMessage – and it will work on Android phones.

The service will be developed by a joint venture and will start with Android in 2020. By collaborating, the carriers hope to accelerate the use of the technology.

"Text is reliable, reliable and easily accessible – which is why we use it to build the foundation for a simple, immersive messaging experience," said David Christopher, EVP and GM of AT&T Mobility.

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It will work across individual messages and group chats, and support high quality photos and videos. They also want it to provide ways for people to interact with businesses so they can "chat with their favorite brands, order rideshare, pay bills or schedule appointments."

They aim to make RCS available across the United States and globally.

"Efforts such as CCMI help drive the entire industry forward so we can give customers more of what they want and roll out new messaging features across suppliers and even across countries," said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

The carriers said that more details will be announced later.

Google has worked for many years with the RCS messaging standard as its plan to bring SMS into the modern Internet era and compete against Apple's iMessage. Back in 2017, Google announced that 27 carriers across the globe would roll out support for RCS, including Sprint, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Globe, Rogers and Telenor. Sprint first partnered with Google on RCS in 2016.

First published at 2:41 p.m. PT on October 24th.
Updated at 03:09 at :: 1919459070] Adds more information about Google's development of RCS.

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