In recent weeks, Google Messages customers in India have complained getting a barrage of unwelcome adverts via Rich Communication Services (RCS), and Google has responded by turning them completely off. Google spokesman Kaori Miyake verified to The Verge that the function has been deactivated in India: “We’re aware that certain companies are misusing our anti-spam measures to send promotional messages to Indian users.” In India, we’re turning off this function while we work with the industry to enhance the user experience.”
The advertising in question were sent to clients using RCS’ business messaging function, which allows verified firms to send messages to customers that include graphics and interactive elements in addition to text. It’s marketed by Google as a means for businesses to engage with existing consumers – communications you might want on your phone. However, RCS users in India have had a quite different experience. They’ve received several messages from companies promoting credit cards and gambling applications, among other things.
Until now, the only option to avoid the barrage of advertising was to turn off RCS entirely, which was not a great experience. In the near term, Google’s decision to disable corporate texting is a better option, but it’s definitely not a long-term solution. Sanaz Ahari, the director of product management for Android Messages, told us in 2019 that the company’s ambition for RCS was “a wonderful, easy user experience that just works for every Android user.” RCS has progressed significantly since then, but there is still more work to be done.