Google has gone all-in on its Messages service, which offers a new RCS experience similar to iMessage, and is taking its commitment a step further by asking users to ‘donate‘ messages to refine its algorithms. The default Android messaging app is built on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol, a successor to the older Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) protocols. As other Google messaging apps are sunset, the Google Messages app and the prominent RCS standard become vital to the company’s strategy moving forward.

The company’s bone of contention remains Apple‘s reluctance to embrace the RCS standard, with the iPhone-maker continuing to focus on its proprietary iMessage service instead. This dispute is particularly important for the younger audience, which values the connection and exclusive features of iMessage. Though Android has competitors to Apple‘s iMessage services, they pale in comparison to the unified Apple experience. As such, Google has publicly criticized Apple for not supporting the RCS standard, the foundation for its Messages app.

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One of the key features of Messages is the app’s ability to sort messages into distinct categories. The service is popular among Android users for both personal and work due to the app’s varied feature set. This prompted Google to explore algorithm-based sorting of messages into categories like work, personal, and promotional messages. Now, in order to further refine the process, the company is asking for user data to perfect the categorization algorithm, as spotted by Android Police.

Google To Improve Categorization With Donations

Star message feature in Google Messages

The company is now prompting select users to ‘donate’ messages to Google in order to understand how to properly sort them. The research and development donations are optional, meaning that users will have complete authority on whether their messages are shared. That’s important considering one of the app’s best features is its end-to-end encryption, which is a privacy must in digital communication. The ‘donation’ of messages is something relatively new, but the concept is not uncommon. Voice assistants routinely ask users for recordings in order to improve the artificial intelligence, and Google’s new donation prompt is just an extension of this industry standard.

If the prompt is selected, users will be presented with another page showing the messages that will be sent to Google. The company automatically selects promotional and business-related messages for donation, but users have full control over which messages are sent. Additionally, users can even edit the content of messages set to be donated to remove any personal or comprising information. Google says that all messages donated will remain private and detached from any associated phone number or account. It may be a tough sell to ask users to share their text messages with a technology company known to collect data for targeted advertisements, but for those committed to the development of AI, the prompt offers a chance to participate in the refinement of Google’s algorithms.