The four major U.S. carriers are planning to roll out a Rich Communication Services (RCS) app later this year. This allows Android users to send and receive messages via a phone's data connection instead of its cellular connection. However, Google has already updated its Android Messages app by enabling RCS Chat on all Android phones. Messages between two RCS users can be as long as 8,000 characters instead of 160. Additionally, a user will know if his messages have been read thanks to read receipts that he will receive.
Google is borrowing a messaging feature from Apple
Other improvements that Android users will see is the ability to share larger video files, host group chats with as many as 100 participants, and have RCS chats run through a Wi-Fi network. Android users have long wanted a messaging platform with some of the advanced features that iOS users have enjoyed with the Messages app. And the carriers plan on monetizing RCS by using the platform to allow companies to reach Android users. We could even see Android users order a Lyft or Uber rideshare through their RCS Chat app.
According to a Redditor (via Android Police), Google is testing one feature found in iMessages for its RCS Chats. An Android user sporting a OnePlus 7 Pro on T-Mobile has the beta version of Google's Messages app installed and discovered that he could respond to a Chat with an emoji reaction. That is a feature available to iOS users via iMessage. Android users engaged in an RCS chat (again, both sides of the convo must be using RCS) long-press on the last message received and they will see seven different emoji that they can choose from for their emoji reaction. The one they select will end up on the lower right side of the last message sent by the other party.
While Google just sent out a beta update to the Messages app, the emoji reaction has not appeared on all Android phones that were updated. This would seem to indicate that a server-side update is at play here. You can check out whether you have this feature the next time that you're in the middle of an RCS Chat by long-pressing on a message you've received. If you don't see the options for an emoji response, you do not have it yet. If Google decides to add this as a permanent feature you will eventually have the ability to use an emoji to convey your emotions about a message that was sent to you.
One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot use RCS Chat if the texting platform you use now is one provided to you by your carrier. For example, Verizon Messages will not work with RCS. If you don't have the Google Messages app on your Android handset, you can install it from the Google Play Store.
There are some things that are not perfectly clear from the testing. One is whether there are only seven emojis that will be made available for the user's reaction. The seven that were seen in the screenshot shared by a Redditor include ThumbsUp, HeartEyes, Laughing so hard you're crying, Surprised, Sad (with one lonely tear), Anger, and ThumbsDown. That pretty much covers a wide multitude of emotions.
If you are an Android user, you'll know whether you are messaging someone using RCS because of the dark blue background of the text balloons. If you're exchanging messages with someone who is not a phone enthusiast, it is possible that even if you ask them outright, they might have no idea what platform they are using and whether they have RCS.