Google wants to change all that and works with US providers to make text messages more powerful, more consistent on Android phones and more fun to use. It will, however, succeed, namely to allow carriers to use a message protocol with the name RCS.
Here's a look at what RCS is and does, what it will give you and when you might start using it on your Android phone.
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 somewhat over the years and have expanded the original 160-character limit and added MMS (multimedia messages) for sending photos & videos and # 39; s. 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.
How does RCS make sms & # 39; and better?
The biggest change is that RCS messages allow you to share high resolution photos, videos, GIFs and 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.
How RCS messages work on Android phones
If you have a phone and are using a wireless network provider that supports RCS (more on this soon), all you have to do is open the Google Messages app and follow the instructions when prompted to use chat features.
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.
Some device manufacturers, such as Samsung, have integrated Google's RCS platform 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. Doing this will give you the added benefit of being able to send text messages from your computer and receive a notification when RCS messages are available for your phone and provider.
I have installed Google & # 39; s messages but do not have RCS. Why?
This is where RCS becomes messy. RCS only works if your telephone and your wireless network provider support this. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as Google to release an app, install it, and then access the new features.
We have 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 currently support it.
Which providers and telephones now work with RCS SMS?
At the moment there are a few phones and providers that support it, but it is very changeable. Verizon added RCS support for the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL and was intended to support the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, but the fun stopped there.
In 2018, Google and Samsung announced a collaboration to bring RCS messages to more Android devices, but without carrier support, it doesn't mean much.
Companies like Verizon add even more confusion, 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 +.
There are some providers that support RCS Universal Profile from Google and you can now use RCS such as Sprint and Google Fi. Outside the US, enabled Google RCS for the UK and France in July 2019.
If you are unsure whether your provider supports this, GadgetHacks has a fantastic overview of providers and their respective approaches to RCS over worldwide.
When will I receive RCS messages on my Android phone?
Good question. At the moment it doesn't seem to be over. Certainly now that US airlines have decided to build their own messaging platform, with support for Google & # 39; s Universal Profile, with roll-out sometime in 2020. That means you'll eventually see an improved messaging experience on your Android phone here in the US, but it can be a broken or inconsistent experience due to the implementation of the wireless providers.
We follow the story and will update this FAQ as the development occurs. Until that time we can only wait.
What about RCS on my iPhone?
Apple has kept its mouth shut about its intention to support 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, regardless of your provider, with a catch
Reddit users thought of a way to enable RCS on any Android phone, regardless of the provider. It proves in any case that Google can enable RCS messages for all Android users without the approval of the provider. It is unlikely that Google runs the risk of alienating its valuable business partners.
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 can always jump to the iPhone – it's not as hard as you might think.