Google Messages to upgrade old chats to RCS after Apple's adoption

Image credit — PhoneArena

Google Messages is planning to upgrade old cross-platform chats, including those with iPhone users, to the RCS messaging standard. This move comes after Apple finally decided to add RCS support to iMessage after years of resistance.

In the past, group chats involving both iPhone and Android users were automatically downgraded to SMS and MMS formats, which lack the advanced features of RCS. However, a recent APK code breakdown in the Google Messages app's beta version suggest that these older conversations could be transformed into RCS chats.

Two flags, named "bugle.enable_mms_group_upgrade_ui_home_screen" and "bugle.enable_mms_group_upgrade_ui_conversation_screen", have been identified as necessary to activate this upgrade feature. Users would receive a popup notification stating, "You've got upgraded chats" when a conversation is successfully upgraded. They would also be informed about the benefits of RCS, such as sending higher quality photos and videos with reactions.

RCS messaging on iPhone (green bubbles and all) will come to the stable version of iOS 18 and is already working on the latest beta | Image credit — Apple

Currently, RCS support on iPhones is limited to the iOS 18 beta version, and is expected to see a wider rollout with the stable release of iOS 18 this fall. Importantly, this upgrade to Google Messages wouldn't be limited to just chats with iPhones, as it could also enhance conversations between Android phones where one participant isn't using an RCS-compatible app.

While this feature is not yet publicly available, it represents a significant step towards improving messaging experiences between different platforms. It aligns with Google's ongoing efforts to promote RCS adoption and enhance cross-platform communication.

The upgrade process would be automatic, with users being notified through pop-up messages. This would provide a seamless transition to RCS, allowing users to enjoy its benefits without requiring manual intervention.

Although the specific implementation details and timeline remain unclear, the potential impact of this upgrade is considerable. It could significantly improve the quality and functionality of messaging for millions of users who engage in cross-platform conversations.

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