Google today announced that the latest generation of person-to-person mobile messaging is now available for US Android users. We are, of course, talking about “RCS,” or Rich Communication Services, which is often considered the successor to traditional SMS messaging.
RCS messaging supports read receipts, seamless messaging over Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to send and receive high-res photos, videos, and stickers. If that’s not enough, Android’s RCS implementation also brings some extra group communication features, like the ability to add and remove people from conversations or name chats for easier navigation.
These new chat features are coming as a free upgrade to Google’s “Messages” app, which usually comes pre-installed on most Android devices. If that wasn’t the case for you, however, it can be downloaded on the Google Play Store at no cost.
The upgrade is beginning to roll out across the US today, and Google expects it to be “broadly available” by the end of 2019. If it does arrive for you, it’ll be hard to miss — Google says existing users will be “prompted to enable chat features.”
With that said, even if your device has received the update, you may still be blocked from taking advantage of it. When I attempted to enable the new chat features for the purposes of this article, Messages informed me that my carrier (T-Mobile) “does not currently support” them. Whether or not that will change in the future remains to be seen.