Google starts pushing out RCS Chat to all Android phones in the U.S.

Google starts pushing out RCS Chat to all Android phones in the U.S.
Remember that little trick we showed you late last month that allowed you to enable Rich Communication Service (RCS) on any Android phone using the Android Messages app? Today Google made this little trick unnecessary by starting to roll out RCS Chat to all Android phones using the Messages app as the default messaging platform. Those who used the trick will automatically be enabled for the official RCS Chat service. Many Android phones have Messages as the default messaging app right out of the box, but Samsung phones don't. If you need to change the default messaging app on your Android phone, first download Messages by clicking on this link. Then go to Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Default apps >SMS app and select Messages.

RCS is the next generation of messaging and uses a carrier's data connection instead of its cellular connection. This allows users to write messages with up to 8,000 characters instead of the 160 now allowed with SMS/Text. Users will also be able to share larger, higher-quality images and videos, receive a receipt when a message they sent has been read, engage in chats with up to 100 participants at one time, and more. Keep in mind that Google's RCS Chat does not offer end-to-end encryption but the company said in the past that it is working on this feature.

During the summer, Google pulled an end-around wireless carriers in the U.K. and France by rolling out RCS Chat itself directly to Android users and there was hope that this would also be done in the states. And yes, while Google is doing that today, last month the four major U.S. carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) agreed to create the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) that is tasked with releasing an RCS app to Android users next year. To that end, the CCMI agreed to use technology from messaging platform developer Synchronoss Technologies for its own RCS service. The carriers see the possibility of making some money here as consumers will be able to place orders from their favorite brands without leaving CCMI's RCS app.

Google's RCS Chat will work with the CCMI app expected next year


Google's RCS rollout is being done with small incremental updates. Those with Android Messages should soon receive a prompt allowing them to "enable chat features." As we already noted, those who successfully followed the trick to enable RCS on Messages will be included. Android users can see if RCS Chat is enabled on their handset by opening Messages, tapping the three-dot overflow message in the upper right corner, and tapping on Settings > Chat features. Those with RCS Chat enabled will see that their status is "Connected." The rollout will be completed by the end of the year.


By performing this end around for the second time, Google is bypassing the U.S. carriers and is offering RCS itself. While Verizon did hook up the Pixel 3 with RCS and Google's own Fi MVNO has done so for the Pixel 4, the wireless operators in the states had essentially turned the other cheek until they made the CCMI announcement. What will happen next year is not yet known. According to a report in The Verge, Google was not surprised by the initial announcement about the formation of the CCMI (even though the release didn't mention Google at all) and says that it has been in touch with the group. Google has said that its RCS Chat will work with the CCMI app when released in 2020.

For users to be able to take advantage of RCS, both sides in a chat must be using it. It is not supported by iOS and Apple has not commented on whether such support will ever be forthcoming.

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15 Comments

1. Alcyone

Posts: 574; Member since: May 10, 2018

Still waiting for Samsung to allow their wearables to sync with Google's RCS messaging app. Apparently the default message app must be used on my S9+ to sync with my galaxy watch. Is an RCS message not backwards compatible with sms? I mean, if a device (watch) can't receive RCS, can't the phone push it as sms?

8. oliviamia039

Posts: 18; Member since: Nov 13, 2019

Most of the big 4 here in the U.S. do support RCS, but they support their own incompatible RCS implementations.

2. Blazers

Posts: 766; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

“Chat features unavailable for this device. Your carrier does not currently support this feature.” Uninstalled.

4. Ikechukwu

Posts: 262; Member since: Oct 03, 2011

Hahaha this is what I have on my 4XL but it's a staged rollout

3. RevolutionA

Posts: 496; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Keep messing around with that stuff Android people. At one point y'all forget about messaging and compare yourselves to the who perfected the messaging

6. Blazers

Posts: 766; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Yes iMessage is definitely superior to RCS, since there's end to end encryption, and a large installed base. It's ultimately going to be up to Samsung.....not Google, and not CCMI.....to push Android into secure RCS messaging, since they are the biggest seller of Android handsets in N.A.

12. Carlitos

Posts: 684; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

End to end encryption is kinda meh, cause the moment you text someone without an iPhone it's not encrypted. And last I checked Google Android has over 80% of the market

10. Georgio

Posts: 296; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Most of the people in Europe use what's up anyway.

5. j_grouchy

Posts: 186; Member since: Nov 08, 2016

Still not convinced there is any real advantage to RCS. If it's only about seeing when others are typing a message and getting "likes" on my messages, then I'm fine with plain ol' text messaging like I've been using for years with no issue.

7. TBomb

Posts: 1668; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I don't think current RCS has the ability to get "likes" But the current real advantages are... *Longer character limit in messages sent/received *Bigger files/images/videos sent/received *Read Receipts *Typing indicators *Send over Wifi works as well (just put my phone in airplane mode and sent/received an RCS message with my brother to test this)

9. user001

Posts: 24; Member since: Sep 16, 2015

What if the "leaked" RCS hack from last month was actually a beta for Google to see how excited US users would respond to RCS? Thus seeing MANY tech savvy ppl install the Messages (beta) and enable RCS flags, Google realized they could flip on the switch for RCS broadly now instead of waiting on more delays from carriers. For at least 2 years, I have posted across various sites that Google could simply enable RCS in one of its "chosen" messaging apps and give ALL Android users a superior (to SMS) messaging experience. Countless ppl replied... It. Can't. Be. Done. And I said BS every time. Lo and behold, 11/2019 Google simply flips a damn switch in Google Messages and boom done.

11. TBomb

Posts: 1668; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Don't recall ever seeing your comments about this, but I am relatively new to following RCS. I could totally see this being a path that Google would take. Push it out to the people who truly care to test. Then flip the switch after you see it works

13. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1348; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Google should have done this a lot sooner. It's not that they couldn't do it, it's that they wanted carriers to play ball too. This is something I don't understand. Carriers have almost always conceded to anything Apple wants to do and then turned around and strong armed Google on the same thing. Carriers need to be sued for anti-competitive practices.

14. Bobo1997

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 05, 2019

I’m curious, once the rollout is complete will it interface with iMessage? What I mean is I use iMessage, but when I message friends with Android phones it sends them as regular sms/mms. After the roll out will iMessage users get delivery/read receipts from android users as well?

15. Blazers

Posts: 766; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Nope. Apple will have to implement RCS themselves with an update to iMessage. I seriously doubt they will.

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