Earlier this year, Google took over the RCS rollout from carriers in the UK, France, and Mexico. With no market still so reliant on SMS as the US, Google today announced that it’s officially rolling out RCS in Messages stateside.
In “upgrading messaging” directly, Google is not waiting for carriers — specifically the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) slated for 2020 that will require a new app instead of the default Android client. Instead, the big RCS proponent is providing the service directly to Android customers.
Starting today, Google is “broadly” rolling out Chat features in the US through the Messages app. You’ll be prompted to upgrade “in the coming weeks,” with full availability expected by the end of this year. While “send a text” or “texting” was the parlance for SMS/MMS, the RCS equivalent is just “chat.”
When live on your phone, the Messages app will slide up a bottom panel in the main conversations list titled “New! See when friends are typing” or “Messages just got better.” There will be a big Upgrade/Accept button, though users can choose to do it later from preferences.
The process takes a few minutes, and once complete visiting Settings > Chat features will note “Status: Connected.” You can disable RCS entirely here, and control other options.
In addition to live typing indicators at the bottom of messages threads, RCS allows for read receipts while both of these features can be disabled. Other functionality includes higher-resolution photos and videos thanks to a cloud backend, larger group conversations, and business messaging with airlines and stores. All this works over Wi-Fi or data connections, with the previous SMS/MMS standard used as a fallback in case a message is not sent.
Messages will detect which of your contacts has RCS enabled, and you can tell whether the conversation field says “Chat message” or “Text message.”
Google officially bringing RCS to Messages in the US follows a trick that enabled the service on any Android phone and carrier last month. Today’s rollout is only stateside, but the company did note how it will “continue to work on bringing [RCS] to everyone on Messages around the world.” They also reiterated how they’re “committed to working with our partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.”
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