RCS is an up and coming upgrade from SMS/MMS texting. In Canada, both Bell and Rogers Wireless have implemented this change, and Sprint has done the same in the US. More carriers will follow suit as time progresses.
Update: At this time, Bell is still rolling out RCS to clients. T-Mobile states they support RCS since 2015, but only with their own messaging app, not with Google’s Android Messages.Only recently, some T-Mobile customers have stated RCS is working in Android Messages. AT&T has done the same thing. So if you’re an AT&T or T-Mobile customer, part of this article won’t apply to you with regards to how to use RCS.
What is RCS?
In layman’s terms, RCS is a big upgrade to SMS and MMS text messaging. SMS is very old in the technology world and is quite limited since all you can do is send and receive text. MMS handled the photos, videos, and even GIFs. Compared to the likes of WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc., a lot of today’s standard features are missing.
Here is a list of features RCS will have;
- Read receipts: You can see if and when the other person has seen your text. This can be turned off in the app settings.)
- Writing prompt: You can see that another person in chat is typing
- Send higher resolution images
- Voice texts: You can record your voice and send an audio file
- Group chat: You can chat with multiple people, like an MMS chat group. But now you can create a group chat name, all above features are present
- SMS/MMS fallback: If you have RCS and text someone who doesn’t have it, or if you or the other party lost RCS connection, Google Messenger will automatically send an SMS/MMS within the same chat window. This is quite similar to how Apple handles things with iMessage and texting non-Apple users
Alongside this, Google Messenger handles GIFs, makes links usable, allow color schemes per contact, and embeds a Google Map when location info is shared.
So how do I start using RCS?
At this time, you need to be with Bell, Rogers Wireless, or AT&T and use an Android smartphone. Other carriers in US and Canada will add RCS support, but no ETA has been provided yet, other than “by the end of 2017”.
You also need to install and use Google Messenger and have it set as your default texting app. You won’t be able to use LG’s, or Sony’s default texting app for example. In the future, that could change. At this time, people are reporting in that Samsung updated their texting app to support RCS. I’ll update this article as I learn more.
Once Google Messenger is installed, and you’ve opened the app, you should receive a notification asking if you wish to enable enhanced messaging features. I don’t know why they don’t mention RCS, but it is the same thing in this case, so just select “Get Started” and you’re off.
From there, just go through your chat windows and contacts. If the send button doesn’t say “SMS” anywhere, you can use RCS with that individual. Easy.
- The addition to seeing if your text has been delivered and read by the recipient is great. Along with this, you can see a typing indicator from who are you texting with. These are a couple of basic needs these days to any messaging app/service
- In an RCS group chat, the Read indicator actually states who has read it, such as how it is done in Hangouts
- You can now send voice notes
- Location sharing appears the same way as it would if sent via SMS. Google Messenger just shows the URL and a small map preview. RCS looks no different.
- As with iMessage, if you text someone who doesn’t have RCS, or if you’re texting someone with RCS, but RCS fails, it will fall back to SMS seamlessly.
- In addition to the above point – two people are having issues at this time with using RCS consistently. I could not add them to an RCS group chat. Instead, when I added their names to the list, Google Messenger wanted to make an MMS group chat instead. Removing their names allowed for an RCS group chat.
- Group chats can be named
- Group chats allow you to change the color of each person in the chat. Only you see these changes though.
- (Google Messenger + RCS) > Allo in my opinion
- More-so to do with Google Messenger than RCS, but, GIFs play on my Android Wear device when using Conversation View. Sick!