As Facebook scrambles to get Instagram and WhatsApp back up online after an extended period where the services are down, Google Messages might provide the perfect alternative.

For those that were unaware, here’s a quick refresher of RCS messaging in Google Messages. Think of this as SMS with a few power-ups and no technical cost associated. WhatsApp rightly or wrongly is the number one third-party messaging platform on the planet, but with the service being down, millions around the globe are without contact with friends and family.

If you have an Android phone, just head over to the Play Store and download Google Messages and set it as your default SMS app. Enabling Chat features enables the Rich Communication Services (RCS) layer, meaning that you don’t need to spend a penny on old-fashioned SMS. You’ll also get all the familiar things such as typing indicators, read receipts, the ability to send images and videos, group chats plus text reactions, and all that good stuff.

How to turn on RCS messaging in Google Messages

  1. On your device, open Messages.
  2. Tap “Get started”> “Next”.
  3. To keep Messages connected, tap “Yes”.

End-to-end encryption is also present so that you have an additional layer of security. If you are desperate to get in touch with people and haven’t yet tried Google Messages, I can personally vouch for it – having used it myself with family members who didn’t even know it existed. Most Android phones now use Google Messages as default, so it’s as easy as sending your existing WhatsApp contacts a “traditional” message.

Even as a backup for when services like WhatsApp, Instagram, or Facebook Messenger go down or have service outages, Google Messages might be an ideal replacement for the non-tech savvy Android users in your extended friend and family circle. Thankfully Google has tackled the slow rollout of RCS support from global carriers and so long as you’re using Messages, you’ll be able to get access to the expanded features.

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Damien Wilde

Damien is a UK-based video producer for 9to5Google. Find him on Twitter: @iamdamienwilde. Email:

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