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Home / Tips and Tricks / Your Android phone has iMessage skills. How to use the Google Chat SMS features

Your Android phone has iMessage skills. How to use the Google Chat SMS features



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Your texting game is about to get a major upgrade in the Google Messages app.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

It's no secret that Apple & # 39; s iMessage service is the glue that attracts iPhone owners to stick to Apple's product line. Until recently, however, Android phones struggled to compete with Apple's texting solution. That has changed thanks to the rollout of Google & # 39; s RCS Messaging the company's new SMS protocol in late 2019.

The service is built into the Google Messages app and helps Google align with Apple's wide texting capabilities, such as the ability to send full-resolution photos and tiny bubbles that let you know when someone is typing.

Even Samsung is participating. It recently announced that the Messages app will soon be using the same RCS technology available in Google's Messages app. If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone it's best to use the Google Messages app for now, at least until Samsung has completed the implementation. We will update this post as we learn more.

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Google tried many different messaging services and lagged behind Facebook Messenger and Apple's iMessage to get real grip. With RCS Messaging so closely intertwined with text messages, Google may have finally found a winner. RCS Messaging doesn't really roll off the tongue, so in the Messages app, Google refers to the service as Chat.

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 Google Chat

First, you need an Android phone with Google Messages app installed and set as the default SMS app. The first time you launch Messages, you will be asked if you want to make it your default app. Just follow the directions and don't worry, you won't lose your conversation history by switching.

After setting Messages as your default messaging app, take a few minutes and set up Messages for the web, which allow you to send and receive text messages from your computer.

RCS messages work in the US, UK, France or Mexico. There is no official list of countries where RCS support is active, but Android Police has received notifications from users in Italy, Portugal and Singapore who are starting to see Chat actively.

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The prompt you get asks if you want to see when your friends are typing, but it does a lot more.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Enable Google Chat Features

After installing the Google Messages app and setting it as your default SMS app, there are two different ways to enable Chat. You can wait for a prompt in the Messages app asking if you want to see when your friends are typing, or you can go to the Settings section of Messages and look for the toggle 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 three-dot menu button (top right corner of the app) and select Settings > Chat Features . If chat features aren't in the settings section, your account doesn't yet have access to RCS.

On the same settings page, you can also enable or disable your read receipts, disable the typing indicator when you type and control what happens if Chat doesn't send a message.

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Make sure to adjust Chat settings.


Screenshots from 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 you should use the service when talking to a contact who also has Chat enabled.

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

You can take advantage faster by letting your friends use Google Messages. You can guide them through the installation process (or send them a link to this post).

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The Messages app looks largely the same.


Screenshot from Jason Cipriani / CNET

Using the new chat features in a conversation

After you enable chat features, the Messages app will continue to work and look the same, and you should continue to use it as you always have. The app knows when you talk to someone via text message or other contact with chat enabled.

The easiest way to see if a conversation is using old-fashioned text messages or the new chat features is to look at the text box before you start typing. If the box says "Instant Message", the conversation has typing indicators, read receipts, and the rest of the features that RCS Messaging offers.

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It is quite easy to see when you are going to send a text message or use the new Chat features.


Screenshots from Jason Cipriani / CNET

When chat features are in use, you can see delivered and read receipts under every message you send, and send full-resolution photos and share files with other chat users. You don't need to do anything special to send a high resolution image, just tap the photo icon in the app and choose a photo or video. You will see a loading circle on the image as it is being uploaded and sent, but otherwise the process looks and works the same as sending a text message.

Since Chat works over cellular data or Wi-Fi, you can put your phone in airplane mode and you can still send and receive messages with other Chat users.

Switch phone? Make sure to turn off Chat

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

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RCS Messaging is not encrypted like Apple & # 39; s iMessage.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Note: Your messages are not encrypted

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

You can use apps like WhatsApp and Signal, or Apple & # 39; s iMessage if you prefer end-to-end encryption.

If you have more questions about RCS Messaging, we have answers . We also have a collection of the best apps for Android users in 2020 or if you've been thinking about jumping to iPhone ($ 699 at Apple) you may be surprised how easy it is .


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