Today we’re taking a peek at Rich Communication Services (RCS) and what it means for you as it’s reached global coverage. RCS is an open standard for messaging services on mobile devices that works with your data connection rather than your cellular connection. RCS chat features upgrade the abilities of SMS text messaging to take advantage of the abilities of smart devices and mobile data connectivity – and it’s ready to roll now, around the world.
Google enabled Android RCS SMS+ chat in the USA back in November of 2019, and we took a moment to discuss why that was good. As Google Messages Product Lead Drew Rowny suggested, “As smartphones get more advanced, our communication apps should also progress to meet our changing needs.”
For those of you that’ve used an iPhone in the past, RCS gives iMessage-like abilities to all smartphones. Ideally all smartphones would have the same ability to send and recieve data-backed messages with RCS, aka “modern chat”, but we’re not there quite yet!
“Today, we’ve completed our global rollout of chat features to make this modern messaging experience universal and interconnected for everyone on Android,” said Rowny. “Now anyone using Messages around the world* has access to modern chat features either from their carrier or directly from Google.”
*Google still includes a bit of a disclaimer, here, as “in some cases, RCS availability depends on your device and service provider.” You can see a global map of availability now for Google Messages and RCS.
Google’s “Messages” app is included with every officially Google-licensed Android smartphone, and is available for download for basically every Android device that works with Google apps now. With Google Messages, RCS works, so long as the data used by your smartphone comes from a carrier that also supports RCS.
In the near future, RCS SHOULD work with more apps and services than Google’s Messages app. It all depends on developers, carriers, and companies taking the plunge with the RCS standard, staking their future on the RCS standard’s ability to survive and thrive. If you take a peek at the GSMA RCS ecosystem page you’ll see the brands working to enable RCS on your smartphone right now.
As yet, Apple has not confirmed support for RCS. Until SMS is gone entirely, Apple won’t likely add RCS support to their messaging apps – which is a bit of a bummer. It’d be nice to have the same support for next-level messaging across ecosystems, but for now, we can only hope!