[Update: Delayed] Google may add APIs so 3rd-party apps can implement RCS messaging
Google’s approach to messaging has been confusing, to say the least, but it seems the company may finally have a clear direction: RCS. This was all started back in May with the news about their “Chat” initiative. Android Messages currently enjoys many of the RCS benefits, but Google may soon add APIs to allow 3rd-party apps to implement RCS messages as well.
Android Messages is one of the few messaging apps that works with “Rich Communication Services.” That’s a bummer if you prefer one of the countless other great messaging apps in the Play Store. We may see some APIs that will change that in Android Q. A new commit (via 9to5Google) points to RCS-related APIs for 3rd-party developers. These APIs would allow apps to manage the RCS messages. These APIs are in the very early “skeleton” stage and they are all marked as “TODO.”
Skeleton implementation of RCS APIs This change adds the classes for RCS Storage APIs. There is no business logic implemented yet, and the parcelable boilerplate code doesn't really do anything. This was needed as these APIs are meant to be interconnected, i.e. to use an RcsPart, the app developer will need an RcsMessage, and for that they will need the RcsThread etc.
We may see some of these goodies before the next major Android version release, but it does look like Android Q will include more RCS support. One developer commented on a code change saying he will be implementing a Rich Communication Services API “in Q.” This is all very good news to Android fans as choice is a major part of the platform. As great as Android Messages may be, Android enthusiasts want to be able to use other apps. More tools for 3rd-party apps are always welcomed.
Update 1: Delayed
As spotted again by 9to5Google, the new APIs are being hidden from developers. The commit description states the following: “This feature is punted from Android Q. This change hides the APIs.” Thus, your favorite third-party text messaging apps won’t be able to take advantage of RCS features in Android Q.