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Home / Tips and Tricks / Google's RCS SMS is similar to iMessage for all Android phones. Learn to use it

Google's RCS SMS is similar to iMessage for all Android phones. Learn to use it



  google-rcs-messaging

Your SMS game will receive a major upgrade in the Google Messages app shortly.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

An SMS problem occurred on Android phones. Their old SMS functions could not compete with Apple's modern iPhone SMS app iMessage. But now phones running Google's mobile software have a chance. RCS Messaging, a new SMS protocol, is now available on all Android phones in the United States, tweeted Sanaz Ahari Lemelson, Senior Director Product Management at Google Messages app for text messages on your phone (not to be confused with Samsung's messaging app), you want to start.

RCS Messaging adds features similar to Apple iMessage to your Android phone, with the ability to send full-resolution photos and small bubbles to let you know when someone is typing. Google is taking the time to roll out, but plans to give all users access to the feature by the end of the year.

Google has tried many different messaging services and has lagged behind Facebook Messenger and Apple's iMessage for real traction. With RCS messaging, which is closely linked to text messages, Google may have finally found a winner. Since RCS messaging doesn't really come off the tongue, Google calls the service in the messaging app a chat.

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Let's take a closer look at what you need to do to activate the new feature and some of the more nuanced aspects of RCS messaging.

First steps with the chat function from Google

First you need an Android phone on which the Google messaging app is installed and set as the standard SMS app. When you start Messages for the first time, you will be asked if you want to set it as the default app. Just follow the instructions and don't worry, you won't lose your conversation history if you switch.

It may take some time before you can access RCS messaging (it appears that Google is alerting 1% of the population at the same time), but in the meantime you can use Messages for Web to send text messages from your computer and can receive. So it's still worth making the switch.

RCS news works in the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Mexico – the rollout will also take some time here. Google is currently adding additional US users and expects RCS to be enabled for all news users in the US by the end of the year.

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The command prompt asks if you want to see when your friends are typing.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Enabling Google Chat Features

After installing the Google News app and setting this app as the default SMS app, there are two ways to enable chat. You can either wait for a prompt in the Messages app asking if you want to see when your friends are typing, or you can look for the switch in the Message Settings section to turn on chat.

When prompted, tap Update Now follow the instructions and enter your phone number when prompted. You can also open messages and tap the three-dot menu button (upper right corner of the app) and select Settings > Chat functions . If the chat features are not in the Settings section, your account does not yet have sufficient access to RCS.

On the same settings page, you can also turn your read receipts on or off, turn off the input screen when you type, and control what happens when the chat doesn't send a message.

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Adjust the settings for chat.


Screenshots from Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you're 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 is connected, your phone number is registered with chat and should use the service whenever you speak to a contact who also has chat enabled.

This is an important aspect of chat. The function must be activated on the device for each conversation partner so that the new chat functions can be used. However, all usual SMS functions are still available.

You can do this earlier by getting your friends to use Google Messages. You can guide them through the installation process (or send them a link to this post).

If you are impatient and want to try chat now, you can try a workaround that some Reddit users have discovered. It's a bit technical, but it should keep you on your feet.

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The messaging app looks mostly the same.


Screenshot from Jason Cipriani / CNET

Using the new chat features in a conversation

After you turn on chat features, the messaging app continues to work and looks the same. You should continue to use them as you have always done. The app knows when to speak to someone via text or another contact with chat enabled.

The easiest way to determine whether a conversation is using old-fashioned text messaging or new chat features is to check the text box before you start typing. If "Chat message" is displayed in the box, the conversation contains tip indicators, read receipts, and the rest of the features that RCS Messaging provides.

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It's pretty easy to tell when you're sending text or using the new chat features.


Screenshots from Jason Cipriani / CNET

When chat functions are used, acknowledgments of receipt are displayed and read under each message that is sent. You can send full-resolution photos and share files with other chat users. You don't have to do anything special to send a high-resolution image. Simply tap the photo icon in the app and select a photo or video. You can see a charging circle in the picture while it is uploading and sending. Otherwise, the process looks the same and works the same as sending a text message.

Since chat works over mobile data or WiFi, you can put your phone in airplane mode and still send and receive messages with other chat users.

Change phones? Make sure you turn chat off

Yes, and indeed you should before you remove the SIM card from your phone. If you forget to deactivate the chat functions before inserting your SIM card into a new phone, the chat functions can be used for up to eight days. This means that you may not receive messages sent to your number by someone chatting.

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RCS messaging is not encrypted like Apple's iMessage.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Note: Your messages are not encrypted.

Google is not currently encrypting your conversations with other chat users. The conversations are securely sent from your phone to the Google server and then to the recipient's phone. The messages are then deleted from the Google server, but these messages are not continuously encrypted.

You can use apps like WhatsApp and Signal or Apple's iMessage if you prefer end-to-end encryption.

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

Originally published last month and updated with new information.


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