Google and T-Mobile announce a major partnership today, with the operator agreeing to present a suite of Google services on Android phones sold in the operator’s network. The list includes official support for Google’s Android Messages (with RCS) app on all T-Mobile Android phones, release T-Mobile’s own TV services for Google’s YouTube TV, show Google One as the default backup service, and expand support and sales of Google hardware like Pixel.
T-Mobile and Google say the carrier has “most Android smartphone customers in the United States.” With this great partnership, these customers will have a phone that is more likely to display native Google services instead of less well-supported services from the operator or manufacturer.
But the biggest news is probably that T-Mobile is discontinuing its Live, Live Plus and Live Zone services in favor of YouTube TV. T-Mobile customers receive $ 10 of that service, and there will be various other offers, including three months without YouTube Premium. More about that deal (and the surprising decision to discontinue T-Mobile’s own TV streaming service) here from Chris Welch.
For messaging, it’s another step forward in the long, complicated and upsetting journey of normalizing the next generation RCS standard across the United States. Just in January, some weird backroom deals meant Samsung’s Galaxy S21 devices shipped with Samsung Messages as standard in the US, while most of the rest of the world received Android messages.
Samsung phones on T-Mobile want use Android messaging by default in the future, like all other Android phones that T-Mobile sells. Google says the transition will take place by the end of the year.
Google also provides a small update on the ongoing work to support secure end-to-end encryption for RCS on Android messages. It reiterated that the launch for beta testers has already started and that it “will continue throughout 2021.” Fully encrypted 1: 1 messaging chat for RCS is currently only supported in Android messaging, so T-Mobile’s decision to make it the standard will mean more people will have it available to them.
Google and T-Mobile also announce plans to “build a messaging business together.” It’s a reference to RCS’s ability to be used for business chat – just as you can with iMessage or WhatsApp for some businesses. This is one of the things that originally seemed like it could be a great driver for adoption, since there is money to be made on the backend when companies pay for the service, but it has not reached its potential yet.
Last but not least, T-Mobile adopts Google One’s cloud storage as the default backup service for Android phones. Unlike TV, it does not appear that there will be any discounts offered. Custom online storage solutions from operators are a notoriously annoying piece of crapware installed on Android phones – just ask any Verizon or AT&T customer who purchased the phone from the operator.
Asked for comment, Google said it did not “disclose the financial terms of this agreement.” Google and T-Mobile already have an existing relationship, as T-Mobile is the network that supports Google’s MVNO, Google Fi. This new agreement does not change anything for Fi customers.