Google Enables Android RCS Messaging in the U.S.

Posted on November 15, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 13 Comments

Google is done waiting for U.S. carriers to roll out Rich Communication Service (RCS) text messaging in its Android Messaging app.

RCS is an open messaging standard designed to put non-iPhone handsets on equal footing with Apple’s offering. It lets you chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive higher-resolution photos and videos than is possible with MMS, and see whether recipients received your sent messages. It also enables more functionality for group chats.

The RCS issue came to a head in the wake of the launch of the Pixel 4, which is the first Google handset to be offered by all four major U.S. carriers. But none of the carriers enabled RCS messaging on their networks, preferring instead for customers to use their own messaging services.

So Google is now doing what it does elsewhere in the world: It is simply bypassing the carriers and offering RCS messaging via its own servers.

“If you already have Messages, you’ll be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks,” Google’s Sanaz Ahari says. “We expect this service to be broadly available in the U.S. by the end of year.”

To enable this functionality, you do have to use Google’s Messages app, which ships with most Android versions. (Customers of Samsung and other devices can simply download it for free from the Google Play Store.)

Hey, Google tried to do the right thing. And then the carriers did what the carriers always do: Screw over their partners.

“Google is partnering with carriers and OEMs to offer a native messaging client, Messages, for RCS, SMS and MMS messaging,” Google explained previously in a more innocent day. “Messages supports the GSMA’s Universal Profile for interoperability across operator networks and devices.”

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