Google has been trying to upgrade SMS messaging for years, by supporting the next-gen RCS protocol that enables features like read receipts, transferring high-quality photos and videos, and chatting over WiFi.

But the rollout of RCS support for Android phones has been hampered in the US by wireless carriers, who have been slow to support the technology.

Last month carriers announced that they’d finally jump aboard the RCS train.

So Google’s announcement today that it’s finally ready to bypass the carriers seems oddly timed… but maybe it make sense when you consider that Google wants you to use its own Messages app, while the carriers are going to roll out a new messaging app.

Anyway, The Verge has a breakdown of how RCS works and how Google is going to let you use it even if your wireless carrier doesn’t support it yet.

But here are the key takeaways:

Once enabled, RCS allows SMS messaging to work a little more like dedicated chat apps such as WhatsApp or iMessage — at least when you’re chatting with another user that also has RCS enabled.

Optional chat features available via the Google Messages app include:

  • Support sending data over WiFi when it’s available.
  • Send read receipts to let other users know when you’ve read their messages.
  • Show typing indicators to let other users know when you’re inputting text.
  • Resend a message automatically if it fails to go through the first time (when you’re not roaming).
  • Automatically download files you receive by using mobile data (you can set file size limits for this feature).

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5 replies on “Google enables RCS messaging for US smartphones (without any carrier help)”

  1. You guys are funny. Having worked in a corporate branch of the largest carrier in the US for just under a decade, I promise you with 100% certainty, as in I’ve seen it with my own eyes on multiple occasions, that all carriers (there is like 2 main messaging relay software packages the carriers in the US use so id imagine its no different at ATT/Sprint/Tmo) not only “view” but retain (for years and years) all your calls, and all of your messages and attachments in virtual perpetuity, now I’m not referring to call/message LOGS or anything, I’m talking actual literal recordings of your calls and full reporting of messages. Ive personally seen these archives accessed at the store level (and you’ve seen some of the shady people that work in some of these cell stores) and didn’t require any high level authorizations or even a valid work case to get into the data. Its like when people talk about Snapchat or Skype being “secure and private”….what are you kidding me???!!! Whenever there is a man in the middle……there is a man in the middle and you go ahead and trust that man all you want. Tinfoil hat or not, unless you control 100% of the pipe between you and the intended recipient, you should never assume your messages are totally secure/private.

    1. Hence using Matrix on a server you own and encrypting everything, but good luck getting anyone you know to switch to it. That’s a big problem with all these accursed IM applications. You end up using one because people you know were on it, and they use what they use because people they knew were on it, and you end up having to install like 26 different apps, most of which store everything forever and sell it to whoever. Few people actually LIKE this situation, but they’re all trapped nevertheless.

  2. Not a fan of these built in (Google) or added on (carrier) messaging apps. They have enough of my information. Signal and Telegram at least give you a bit more privacy.

  3. So, RCS requires internet like MMS, right?

    Then what is the difference with WhatsApp etc?

  4. Took them long enough….

    Should’ve simply bypassed carriers back in 2012.

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