One thing I’ve always liked about Android is the freedom to choose the default SMS app. Not that I’ve used SMS in a while, but when various services still rely on it - it’s nice to have the SMS messages combined with an existing messaging app, rather than something entirely different.
Well no longer. On the 9th March, Signal will officially end support for SMS messages, meaning no more sending\receiving or storing of SMS messages.
The decision seems to have come down to three key things:
Google are already phasing out SMS in the only way Google know how - build something better. RCS (“Rich Communication System”) has been integrated into the default Android app for sometime now, and while it’s basically an iMessage equivalent for Android, it does have the important distinction of being an SMS replacement protocol, and is supported by major telco’s around the world. This means that two different phones on two different carriers can ‘step up’ to support RCS if needed, and enjoy rich emoji’s, videos and even calling without relying on have the same app.
SMS is unencrypted, which totally goes against Signals’ best practices for an app
It can be confusing for users who can’t tell the difference between an unencrypted SMS message and an encrypted Signal one
So I’m onboard with it - as nice as it was to have SMS and Signal combined, I can see that Messages (the default Android SMS app) has come a long way and has full support for RCS and end-to-end encryption.
Naturally however, Apple will not be supporting RCS, meaning conversations between the two phones is either done at a high level using the same app such as WhatsApp, Signal etc or the old-fashioned low-level SMS. Neither Google nor Apple are likely to reconcile this divide between the two anytime soon.
For the full blog post from Signal, see https://signal.org/blog/sms-removal-android/