Since last year’s “Get the Message” advertising campaign online and in New York City, awareness of Rich Communication Services (RCS) is growing more mainstream. Google is now making RCS even more consumer-facing by prominently surfacing the name of the standard — a brand, of sorts — in Messages for Android.

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While “SMS” and “text” have become interchangeable when sending a message, the same cannot be said about “RCS” and “chat.” “Chat” is the word Google chose for a message sent with the standard meant to replace SMS/MMS.

When RCS first rolled out several years ago, Google Messages described that functionality — read receipts, typing indicators, etc. — as “Chat features.” It’s the name of the menu at the top of the Messages Settings page and appears in various set-up prompts.

Google Messages in 2018

To improve awareness and user education, Messages is now changing that to just “RCS chat.” “Enable chat features” becomes a much more explicit and straightforward “Turn on RCS chats.”

There are a handful of other branding changes in the app, but the most important sees the “Chat message” hint in the text field of a conversation — which tells you whether or not SMS is being used — change to “RCS message.”

It’s also now “RCS chat with [x]” rather than “Chatting with [x]” as the end-to-end encryption status line gets the same treatment.

Google Messages choosing to embrace and surface the RCS brand to users is much better than sticking with “Chat features.” While it did evoke a more modern online service and set of features, it was generic, and confusing in the context of there also being “Google Chat.”

Google confirmed to us today that this change is currently rolling out to users enrolled in the Messages open beta, and that more people will see “RCS” over time.

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Abner Li

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