RCS is finally here — at least for Android users. Google has announced it is rolling out RCS as Android’s primary texting platform to anyone who uses the Android Messages app.
RCS is a pretty big deal for Google and largely seen as Google’s way to compete better with Apple’s iMessage. That’s because it’s essentially a next-generation texting platform, enabling features found on iMessage, like read receipts, better group message support, better multimedia support, and more.
“To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services),” Google said in a statement. “When you and your friends message each other with these chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages.”
Of course, there is one major disadvantage to Chat compared to Apple’s iMessage — the fact that Apple’s service is end-to-end encrypted, while Google’s is not. Google promises that it will only store messages in transit, and won’t save them afterward, but it may still be possible for messages to be intercepted or read by others. Because of that, the privacy-conscious will want to stick with other services, like WhatsApp or iMessage.
To take advantage of the new service, you’ll simply need to make sure that Android Messages is the default texting app on your phone. Many Android phones come with Android Messages as the default, however some manufacturers, like Samsung, bundle in their own messaging apps. If you want to use RCS, you’ll need to head to the Google Play Store and download Messages for yourself.
The rollout of RCS has been a little awkward over the past few years. Carriers started rolling out limited support last year, but it was only available on select phones — and as such, it was pretty messy. With Google taking control of the rollout, it can bypass the messiness of carriers’ rollout.
When the feature arrives on your phone, you’ll be prompted to enable it in the app. According to Google, RCS will be “broadly available” by the end of 2019.