It is still used, but loses more and more terrain: dead normal SMS ‘and. The Short Message Service standard has been on telephones since the early 90s, but by now we all have about ten alternatives such as WhatsApp or Messenger that can do significantly more.
Apple has partly solved that with iMessage, which can satisfy the modern needs of users, but on Android there is nothing that can measure itself with that. Google wants to solve that by worldwide setting a new standard: Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Google has not invented that standard, but they have made technology based on that standard that is simply called ‘Chat’.
According to The Verge Google has since had contact with almost every major telecom provider to make sure they support Chat. For the sake of clarity: Chat is not an app, but an extension of the SMS capabilities that every phone already has. Every Android phone will of course receive support for the standard, which means that a large part of the phones in the world would support this. If a phone would not do that, the message is automatically converted to an old-fashioned SMS.
What more can you do with Chat? Almost everything that you expect from a chat app is supported: read receipts, indicators that someone is typing, pictures and video and group messages. What is not, however, is just as important: encryption. This means that the messages you send via the Chat standard are not encrypted and can therefore be easily intercepted, in contrast to iMessage. Telecom providers do like that, but it is not ideal for us as users.
The Apple factor
At the moment, Google has 55 telecom providers (including KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile), 11 OEMs such as Asus, Samsung, LG, HTC and Huawei and two OS providers to the extent that they support new standard. Will it surprise anyone that there is no Apple in the last two? Google and Microsoft (!) Are on board, but Apple has not committed to the Chat story.
Why should they? With their introduction of iMessage in 2012, they anticipated the end of SMS and are in fact carved. If Chat genuinely turns up everywhere and will be used a lot, it is not difficult for Apple to decipher the messages that come through the standard in iMessage and show them, so they do not have to support it and Apple users do not go there to hardly suffer. Not that it will stop the standard: SMS has to go away once, and it seems that the dominance of Facebook finally got all those parties (who also do not trust each other for a meter) at the same time.
How to proceed?
Chat becomes one thing, according to Google this year. There will be no major launch, but with more and more providers and telephones it will work and within a year or two it will be everywhere. There Google had to sacrifice its own chat apps, because they announced at the same time with this story that there is no longer working on Allo. The team that was working on it is now working on the improved version of the standard Android Messages app, to ensure that it fully supports the Chat standard.
Ultimately it is up to the users to decide whether they will use these new features, but Google will in any case have a standard app on every new (and very many old) Android phones that can compete with iMessage and the rest of the chat apps that only use data. Assuming that the telecom companies do not count SMS costs for every message by the way, because that is the disadvantage of having your good idea done by dozens of companies at the same time instead of doing it all yourself: you do not have everything under control.