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Home / Tips and Tricks / Do not be jealous of iMessage. Google's smart SMS update is on the way

Do not be jealous of iMessage. Google's smart SMS update is on the way



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


Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you use the Google News app on your Android phone, you'll soon be asked if you'd like to enable a new chat feature that lets you see when your friends are typing. If you do not use the Google News app, you should start. Google announced a slow launch of RCS News for users in the US and expects to finish by the end of the year. The US launch follows market 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 has beaten ($ 699 at Apple) Google. Apple's iMessage supports sending group messages and reading evidence. It contains the addictive blue bubble that automatically notifies other iPhone users about Wi-Fi and not just your cellular data connection.

The fact that Android phone manufacturers use different messaging apps by default prevents SMS messages from becoming as distinctive to iPhone users as iMessage. Google wants to change all that and is working to make text messaging on all Android phones more powerful, consistent and entertaining. And that with a messaging protocol called RCS.

See what RCS is and what it does and what you can do with it on your Android phone.

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What does RCS mean?

RCS is a kind of message protocol that stands for Rich Communication Services. If it is widely available, it will replace SMS, the SMS standard used since the 1990s.

SMS messages have evolved over the years. You have exceeded the original character limit of 160 and added MMS (Multimedia Messaging) to send pictures and videos. SMS, however, begins to show his age and limitations. RCS would make SMS on Android as flexible and powerful as SMS platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat .

RCS messaging improves group messaging many times over.


Google

How does RCS improve the SMS feature?

The biggest change is that RCS messages allow you to share photos, videos, GIFs, and high-resolution text messages over Wi-Fi and over your phone's data connection. You can see if contacts are available, when they type for you, and when they read a message. Improvements are visible in group discussions.

Basically it is iMessage, but for Android.

Google has a full website that explains the benefits of RCS messages when you need more detailed information.

What other features will RCS have?

As RCS messages grow in importance, you can chat with companies to place and track orders, make payments, and get help on a product. Business chat is something that Apple's iMessage platform currently offers, but it's a welcome addition to providing a similar feature to Android users.

Are RCS conversations like iMessage encrypted throughout?

no. RCS messages are routed through Google's servers on their way to the recipient and deleted immediately after being sent. Currently, however, the protocol lacks end-to-end encryption. If you want a more secure messaging protocol, you must use another messaging service, such as Apple's iMessage, WhatsApp, or Signal .

How RCS-SMS works on Android phones

To use RCS messages, you must use the Google Messages app as the default SMS app. If you live in a country where Google introduced the service (more about that in a minute), the app will ask you if you want to enable the chat features. Follow the instructions in the app to activate the chat, including entering your phone number when prompted.

After the chat has been activated, you can continue to use the Messaging app as usual. However, if you talk to a person whose feature is also enabled, you will get the extra features for RCS messages. You can tell when a person you're sending messages to has chat enabled because the text box displays "Chat Message" instead of "Text Message."

Some phone manufacturers, including Samsung, have integrated Google's RCS platform into their own standard messaging app, and companies like LG may do so over time. For the moment, it's best to use the Google News app. In this way, you can also send text messages from your computer .

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If your carrier supports RCS, the Google Messaging app has it about settings for the chat feature.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Is it important which carrier I use?

Not anymore. Prior to Google's recent announcement, the availability of RCS messages depended on who made your Android phone and who your mobile service provider was. Now that Google completely bypasses network operators, all you have to do is worry about using the Google News app.

However, it was a bumpy road that came to this point. We've seen a number of announcements and partnerships from Google, Android device manufacturers and even operators that RCS will finally launch. But the truth is that only a small number of phones on an even smaller list of operators supported this.

Verizon added RCS support for Pixel 3 ($ 459 on Amazon) and Pixel 3 XL ($ 1,315 on Walmart) and intended the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus support where the fun stopped. In 2018 Google and Samsung announced a partnership to transfer RCS messaging to more Android devices. At that time, however, this did not mean much without the support of the mobile operator.

The confusion was fueled by companies like Verizon, whose SMS app supports Message + RCS but does not use Google's Universal Profile. If you're a Verizon customer using Message +, you can use the RCS spin-off as long as you're chatting with another Verizon user who also uses Message +.

Some carriers have supported Google's RCS Universal Profile and have provided RCS to users, such as: For example, Sprint and Google Fi .

Outside the US Google activated RCS for Britain and France in July 2019.

It's easy to understand why Google waives Carrier support and publishes RCS news alone.

When will I receive RCS messages on my Android phone?

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

We are following the story and will update this FAQ as soon as the development begins. Until then we can only wait.

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Samsung's news app also supports RCS.


Angela Lang / CNET

What about RCS on my iPhone?

Apple has concealed its intentions regarding the support of RCS on the iPhone. However, it is far more likely that Apple will continue to use its own iMessage platform to make iPhone users feel like part of a rarified community.

How do I use RCS now?

Do not you want to wait? Reddit users have found a way to enable RCS on any Android phone, whether the rollout has reached your device or not. The process is a bit technical, but the instructions are straightforward. Keep in mind that if you try it, you run the risk and the program will not work at any time. That's the nature of the animal.

If you're tired of standard text messaging, check out these messaging applications, which have their own features similar to iMessage. On the other hand, you could always switch to iOS – moving to an iPhone is not as difficult as you think .

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Hopefully, RCS messaging will be used on a massive scale sooner rather than later.


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Originally released earlier this week. Updated with new information.


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