Google just enabled Android RCS SMS+ chat in the USA

Users will soon get a more comprehensive and "rich" experience in SMS text messaging in Android. This is thanks to Google's push for RCS (Rich Communication Services) in SMS text messaging over the past few years, enabled here in the USA in late 2019. To enable this newly-enabled more powerful chat system, users will need the official SMS text messaging client from Google called Messages – which can be downloaded as the Messages app in the Google Play app store.

Google's Messages app is a system-level app, and is not to be mistaken for other "chat apps" that Google's attempted to release and popularize over the past several years. It's also not like the chat apps released by other companies – like Facebook Messenger, or Telegram, or WhatsApp. RCS is like SMS with expanded features, working with your data connection rather than your cellular connection.

Why would I want RCS?

RCS is good for Android because it enables a more rich system for chat right out the gate. In the near future, all Android smartphones (or the vast majority of Android smartphones) will have RCS enabled by default with the standard Messages app that comes with the phone. If more people can easily send messages with images and videos and more, without downloading a 3rd-party app, more people will utilize said system.

It's sort of like our move to more energy-efficient lightbulbs, in a way. When LED lightbulbs were first released, people didn't buy them because they looked weird and different. Then the lightbulb companies started making these new lightbulbs look like the old, less-efficient bulbs, and people bought them en masse. RCS isn't a more energy-efficient system than SMS, but it does enable a more feature-filled experience without the added effort of downloading an app and signing up for an app and etcetera.

How do I enable RCS on Android?

If you'd like to enable RCS on your Android phone, all you'll need to do is make sure you've got the latest version of your built-in system app Messages. That's to be found on the Google Play app store right this minute.

Google suggested that they're aiming to have RCS rolled out across the United States by the end of 2019. Specifically via the Google blog: "We expect this service to be broadly available in the U.S. by the end of year," said Google Product Management Director Sanaz Ahari on November 14, 2019.

If you'd like to know more about what's about to happen, check out Google RCS on Android is coming soon: What you'll opt-into. If you're wondering why it took this long for Android's messaging system to be as feature-filled as Apple's iOS-based iMessage (or Messages, whatever you want to call it), take a peek at this multi-carrier team-up situation that was announced at the tail end of October – they call it the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI).