RCS messaging is finally here for Android users based in the United States. Google made an announcement for it earlier today and the feature will be available to all users in the coming weeks. RCS is a significant upgrade over traditional SMS text as it adds a lot of new chat features that weren't possible with SMS. With RCS features enabled, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. There are also group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.
All of these features have been a part of third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger for a long time, and it's good to see a native Google app (let's forget about Allo) support them. So, if you're based in the US, here's how you enable RCS messaging on your Android device.
How to Enable RCS messaging on Android
Step 1: Download Google Messages from the Play Store. It is pre-installed on most devices, but sometimes, carriers replace it with their own service. Check for any pending updates and update the Messages app to its latest version
Step 2: Once Google Messages is installed and updated you’ll need to set it as your default SMS app. Usually, it is the default app on most phones, but if it isn't, opening it you should get a prompt to set the app as your default SMS app. It looks like this:
Step 3: To enable RCS on your Android smartphone you need to tap on a pop-up message when you open the app. It should look something like this:
Tapping that button will start the process of enabling RCS features. It may take a few minutes for all features to get enabled. Head over to Settings > Chat Features within Google Messages to confirm if you're connected to Google’s servers. Lastly, to avail of the benefits of RCS, the receiver also needs to enable RCS features. You can tell that a user has enabled them if the text field says “Chat Message” instead of “Text message.”
Not all users will be able to access RCS messaging just yet. Google hasn't put out any details about a rollout plan and only said that it should be available to all Android devices 'by the end of the year.'