While most smartphone users around the world rely on various chat apps like WhatsApp, U.S. customers still rely heavily on SMS (short message service) to communicate. Unfortunately, SMS is a very barebones and buggy system. RCS (Rich Communication Services) would fix most of the problems.
Google has been working with global carriers for over two years now to replace SMS with RCS. As you might imagine, the rollout has been far from smooth. Now, instead of continuing to wait for carriers to push the initiative forward, Google is making RCS available for all Android users in the U.S.
A Google spokesperson gave Droid-Life the following statement when asked if the company will continue working with carriers to push out other RCS services:
We’ve been in close touch with the carriers on this step and continue to work with them to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.
It’s technically possible for us to migrate to partner RCS services and we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that users have a great experience, and are happy to interop with their service, including migrating to their service.
If you have ever owned or used an Apple smartphone, you can think of RCS as similar to iMessage. Instead of just hoping that your message goes through, you can expect enhanced features such as read receipts, high-quality images, typing indicators, and rich group chats.
One of the biggest downsides of RCS, though, is the fact that the messages are not encrypted.
The RCS rollout is beginning today and should be available for most by the end of the year. If the Messages app isn’t already installed on your phone, you can download it from the Google Play Store. When RCS is available on your device, you will receive a prompt asking if you’d like to enable “Chat” features.