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Home / Tips and Tricks / Don't be jealous of iMessage. The chic text update from Google is coming

Don't be jealous of iMessage. The chic text update from Google is coming


Apple's iMessage is the glue that users hold on to the iPhone.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you use the Google Messaging app on your Android phone, you will soon see a prompt asking if you want to enable a new chat feature that lets you see when your friends are typing. If you are not using the Google Messaging app, you want to start. Google announced a slow rollout of RCS messages for users in the US and said it is expected to end by the end of the year. The launch in the US follows launches in the UK, France and Mexico earlier this year.

Let's face it, Android phones do a lot of good things, but when it comes to texting, the iPhone ($ 699 with Apple) has Google reports. Apple & # 39; s iMessage supports group messages and read acknowledgments and has that addictive blue bubble that other iPhone users automatically text & # 39; t via WiFi, not just your cellular data connection.

The fact that Android phone manufacturers use different messaging apps as standard, makes texting & # 39; and not as distinctive as iMessage for iPhone users. Google wants to change all of that and is working to make text messages more powerful, more consistent on Android phones and more fun to use. And it does it with a message protocol called RCS.

Here's a look at what RCS is and does, what it will give you and when you can start using it on your Android phone.

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What does RCS mean?

RCS is a type of message protocol that stands for Rich Communication Services. If it is available everywhere, it replaces SMS, the standard for text messages used since the 1990s.

Text messages have evolved slightly over the years and have expanded the original 160-character limit and added MMS (multimedia messages) for sending photos and videos. However, SMS is starting to show its age and limitations. With RCS, texting & # 39; and on Android could be just as flexible and powerful as texting platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat .

Group messages get a whole lot better with RCS messages.


How will RCS improve the SMS & # 39;

The biggest change is that with RCS messages you can share photos & # 39; s, video & # 39; s, GIF & # 39; s and high-resolution texts via Wi-Fi and via your phone's data connection. You can see if contacts are available, when they type you and when they have read a message. Group discussions will also see improvements.

It is actually iMessage, but for Android.

Google has dedicated an entire website to explaining the benefits of RCS messages if you want more details.

What other functions does RCS have?

As RCS messages become more prominent, you can chat with companies to place and follow orders, make payments, and get help with a product. Business chat is something that Apple & # 39; s iMessage platform currently has, but a similar feature for Android users is a welcome addition.

Are RCS calls end-to-end coded, such as iMessage? No. 19. RCS messages are routed on their way to the recipient via Google's servers and are deleted as soon as they are sent, but the protocol currently has no end-to-end encryption. If you want a more secure messaging protocol, you must use a different messaging service, such as Apple's iMessage, WhatsApp, or Signal .

How RCS messages work on Android phones

To use RCS messages, you must use the Google Messages app as your default text messaging app. If you live in one of the countries where Google has rolled out the service (more on this later), you will receive a prompt in the app at some point asking if you want to enable chat features. Follow the instructions in the app to enable chat, including entering your phone number when prompted.

After chat is enabled, you can continue to use the Messages app as you normally do, but when you talk to someone who also has the feature turned on, you get the extra functions of RCS messages. You can see when someone who sends you a message has enabled chat, because & # 39; Chat message & # 39; is displayed instead of & # 39; Text message & # 39 ;.

Some phone manufacturers, such as Samsung, have integrated the RCS platform from Google into their own standard messaging app and companies like LG could do the same over time. But at this time it's best to use the Google Messages app. If you do this, you have the added advantage that can send text messages from your computer .

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If your provider supports RCS, the Google Messages app has settings for the chat function.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Does it matter which carrier I use?

No more. Prior to the recent Google announcement, the availability of RCS messages depended on who made your Android phone and who your wireless provider was. Now that Google completely bypasses the providers, you only have to worry about using the Google Messages app.

However, it was a bumpy road to reach this point. We had seen a number of announcements and partnerships from Google, Android device manufacturers and even providers that RCS will finally roll out. But the truth is that only a small number of phones on an even smaller list of providers have ultimately supported this.

Verizon has added RCS support for the Pixel 3 ($ 459 with Amazon) and Pixel 3 XL ($ 1,315 with Walmart) and was intended to support the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus support, but that's where the fun ended. In 2018, Google and Samsung announced a partnership to bring RCS messages to more Android devices, but at that time, without carrier support, it didn't mean much.

Adding the confusion was companies like Verizon, whose Message + texting app supports RCS, but does not use Google & # 39; s Universal Profile. So if you are a Verizon customer who uses Message +, you can use the RCS spinoff as long as you are chatting with another Verizon user who also uses Message +.

Some providers supported the RCS Universal Profile from Google and made RCS available to users, such as Sprint and Google Fi .

Outside the US, enabled Google RCS for the UK and France in July 2019.

It is easy to see why Google has decided to abandon carrier support and release RCS messages itself to give.

When will I receive RCS messages on my Android phone?

Good question. Google said that only 1% of US users would gain immediate access to RCS, but the company expects the majority of US users to have access "by the end of the year".

We follow the story and will update this FAQ as the development occurs. Until then, the only thing we can do is wait.

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The Samsung Messaging app also supports RCS. Angela Lang / CNET

What about RCS on my iPhone?

Apple has kept its intentions about supporting RCS on the iPhone. But it is much more likely that Apple will continue to use its own iMessage platform to give iPhone users the feeling that they are part of a rare community.

How to use RCS now, with a pawl

Don't want to wait? Reddit users have found a way to enable RCS on any Android phone, regardless of whether the rollout has reached your device. The process is somewhat technical, but the instructions are simple. Keep in mind that you accept some risk by trying it out, and the program can stop working at any time. That is the nature of the beast.

If you are tired of standard text messages, check out these message apps that offer their own iMessage-like functions. On the other hand, you could always jump to iOS – switching to an iPhone is not as difficult as you might think .

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Hopefully sooner than later we will see massive acceptance of RCS messages.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Originally published earlier this week. Updated with new information.

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