Cell phones do a lot of things well, but when it comes to texting, the has google beat. The app supports group messaging and proofreading and has this addictive blue bubble that automatically informs other iPhone users about Wi-Fi, not just your mobile data connection. The fact that Android phone manufacturers use different messaging apps by default prevents SMS messages from becoming as essential to iPhone users as iMessage.
Google wants to change all that and works with US providers to make text messaging on all Android phones more powerful, consistent and entertaining. However, it will take work to get network operators to adopt a message protocol called RCS.
Here's what RCS is and does, what it will do, and when you might be able to use it on your Android phone.
What does RCS mean?
RCS is a kind of message protocol that stands for Rich Communication Services. When it is widely available, it replaces SMS, the text messaging standard used since the 1990s.
SMS messages have evolved over the years and exceed the original limit of 160 characters. In addition, MMS (Multimedia Messaging) has been added to send pictures and videos. SMS, however, begins to show his age and limitations. RCS would make SMS on Android as flexible and powerful as SMS platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat.
How does RCS improve the SMS function?
The biggest change is that with RCS messaging, you can share high-resolution photos, videos, GIFs, and text over both Wi-Fi and your phone's data connection. You can see if contacts are available, when they type for you, and when they read a message. Improvements are visible in group discussions.
Basically it is iMessage, but for Android.
Google has a complete website that explains the benefits of RCS messages if you want to know more about the details.
What other features will RCS have?
As RCS messaging grows in importance, you can chat with companies to place and track orders, make payments, and get help with a product. Business chat is something that Apple's iMessage platform currently offers, but it's a welcome addition to providing a similar feature to Android users.
How RCS-SMS works on Android phones
If you have a phone and use a mobile service that supports RCS (more about that in a minute), you just need to open the Google News app and follow the prompts when asked if you want to use chat features.
After the chat has been activated, you can continue to use the news app as usual. However, speaking to someone with this feature enabled will give you the added functionality of RCS messages.
Some device manufacturers, such as Samsung, have integrated Google's RCS platform into their own standard news app, and companies like LG might do so over time. For the moment, it's best to use the Google News app. This gives you the added benefit of being able to send text messages from your computer, and gives you a warning when RCS messages are available to your phone and mobile service provider.
I have Google Messages installed, but no RCS. Why?
This is where RCS gets messy. For RCS to work, your phone and mobile service provider must support it. Unfortunately, it's not so easy for Google to publish an app, install it, and then access the new features.
We've seen a number of announcements and partnerships from Google, Android device manufacturers and even operators that RCS will finally launch. However, the truth is that only a small number of phones on an even smaller list of operators currently support this.
Which mobile service providers and phones are now working with RCS-SMS?
There are a few phones and mobile providers currently supporting this, but it is a great success or failure. Verizon added RCS support for Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and intended to support the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, but the fun stopped there.
In 2018, Google and Samsung announced a partnership to transfer RCS messages to other Android devices. However, this does not mean much without the support of mobile operators.
Add companies like Verizon, whose SMS app supports Message + RCS, but does not use Google's Universal Profile. If you're a Verizon customer using Message +, you can use the RCS spin-off as long as you're chatting with another Verizon user who also uses Message +.
There are some network operators that support Google's RCS Universal Profiles, and you can currently use RCS, eg. B. Sprint and Google Fi. Outside the USA Google activates RCS for Britain and France in July 2019.
If you're not sure whether your wireless service provider supports it, GadgetHacks has a fantastic breakdown of carriers and their approaches to RCS around the world.
When do I receive RCS messages on my Android phone?
Good question. At the moment, it does not look like it will be soon. Especially now that the US mobile service providers have decided to set up their own messaging platform with support for Google's Universal Profile. The rollout is expected to take place in 2020. This means that you may get an improved messaging experience from your Android phone here in the US, but due to the implementation of the mobile service providers this may potentially lead to a break or an inconsistent experience.
We are following the story and will update this FAQ as soon as the development begins. Until then we can only wait.
What about RCS on my iPhone?
Apple has been silent about its intention to support RCS on the iPhone. However, it is far more likely that Apple will continue to use its own iMessage platform to make iPhone users feel like part of a rarified community.
So now you can hook up RCS independently of your mobile service provider
Reddit users have found a way to enable RCS on any Android phone, regardless of the mobile service provider. If anything, this shows that Google can enable RCS messages for all Android users without the operator's permission. Google is unlikely to alienate its valuable business partners.
The process is a bit technical, but the instructions are straightforward. Keep in mind that if you try it, you run the risk and the program will not work at any time. That's the nature of the animal.
If you're tired of standard text messaging, check out these messaging applications, which have their own features similar to those of iMessage. On the other hand, you can jump to the iPhone anytime – it's not as hard as you think.