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Home / Tips and Tricks / Google & # 39; s RCS SMS is like iMessage for Android. Here's how you use it

Google & # 39; s RCS SMS is like iMessage for Android. Here's how you use it


Your texting game gets a major upgrade in the Messages app from Google.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Text & # 39; and on your Android phone is going to get a whole lot better. Last week, Google announced that it has slowly started rolling out RCS Messaging in the US among users of the Messages app. If you don't use the Google Messages app for text messages on your phone (not to be confused with the Samsung Messages app), you want to get started.

RCS Messaging adds features similar to Apple's iMessage to your Android phone, complete with the ability to send full-resolution photos and small bubbles to let you know when someone is typing. Google takes its time with the rollout, but plans to give everyone access to the feature by the end of the year.

Google has done its best with many different messaging services and lagged behind Facebook Messenger and Apple's iMessage to get a real grip. With RCS Messaging so closely intertwined with SMS, Google eventually found itself a winner. RCS Messaging does not really roll, so in the Messages app, Google refers to the service as Chat.

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Let's take a closer look at what you need to do to enable the new feature, as well as some of the more nuanced aspects of RCS Messaging.

Getting started with the Google chat feature

First, you must have an Android phone with the Google Messages app installed and set as the default app for text messaging. The first time you start Messaging, you will be asked if you want to set it as your default app. Just follow the instructions and don't worry, you won't lose your conversation history by forwarding.

It may take a while for you to access RCS Messaging (Google appears to be rolling out content 1% of the population at the same time), but in the meantime you can take advantage of Messages for Web, which allows you to send and receive text messages from your computer. So it's still worth making the switch.

RCS messages work in the US, UK, France or Mexico – for the time being, though again, the rollout will take time. Google is currently adding more US users and expects to have enabled RCS for all US users by the end of the year.

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The prompt you get asks if you want to see when your friends are typing, but it does so much more than that.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Enable the Google Chat functions

After installing the Messaging app from Google and setting it as your default SMS app, there are two different ways to enable Chat. You can wait in the Messages app for a prompt asking if you want to see when your friends are typing, or you can go to the Messages Settings section and search for the switch to enable Chat.

When you get the prompt, tap Upgrade now and follow the prompts and enter your phone number when prompted. You can also open Messages and tap the menu button with three dots (top right corner of the app) and select Settings > Chat functions . If Chat functions are not in the Settings section, your account does not yet have access to RCS.

On the same settings page you can also enable or disable your read confirmations and disable the type designation as you type and control what happens when Chat does not send a message.

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Make sure to adjust the Chat settings.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you are having trouble sending messages, you can also view the current status of your phone's connection to the chat service in the Settings app. As long as it says Connected, your phone number is registered with Chat and must use the service when talking to a contact who has also enabled Chat.

That is an important aspect of Chat. The person you're talking to must also have the feature on their device turned on to use the new chat features, although of course all the usual text messaging functions still apply.

You can benefit from your friends faster by using Google Messages. You can guide them through the installation process (or send a link to this message).

If you are impatient and want to try Chat now, you can try a solution that some Reddit users have discovered. It's a bit technical, but it should get you started.

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The Messages app usually looks the same.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Use the new chat functions in a conversation

After you have enabled chat functions, the Messages app will continue to work and look the same and you should continue to use them in the same way as always. The app knows when you talk to someone via SMS or another chat contact enabled.

The easiest way to determine whether a conversation uses old-fashioned text messages or the new chat features is by looking at the text box before you start typing. If in the box & # 39; Chat message & # 39; , the call contains type designations, read confirmations and the other functions that RCS Messaging offers.

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It is fairly easy to see when you are going to send an SMS or use the new chat functions.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

When chat functions are used, you will see delivered and read confirmations under each message that you have sent and you can send photos in full resolution and share files with fellow chat users. You do not need to do anything special to send a high-resolution image. Simply tap the photo icon in the app and choose a photo or video. You will see a loading circle on the image when it is uploaded and sent, but otherwise the process looks the same and works like sending an SMS message.

Because Chat works via mobile data or WiFi, you can put your phone in airplane mode and you can still send and receive messages with other Chat users.

Switch phone? Make sure you disable Chat

Yes, and in fact you should do this before removing the SIM card from your phone. If you forget to disable chat functions before moving your SIM card to a new phone, the chat functions can continue to work for up to 8 days. This means that you may not receive messages sent to your number by someone using chat.

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RCS messages are not encrypted like Apple's iMessage.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Note: Your messages are not encrypted

Google does not currently encrypt your conversations with fellow chat users. The calls are securely sent from your phone to the Google server and then to the recipient's phone, after which the messages are deleted from the Google server, but those messages are not end-to-end encrypted.

You can use apps such as WhatsApp and Signal or Apple's iMessage if you prefer end-to-end encoding.

If you have more questions about RCS Messaging, we have answers. We also have an overview of the best messaging apps for Android users, or if you are considering jumping to the iPhone ($ 699 at Amazon) you might be surprised how easy it is.

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