RCS is an upgrade to the standard SMS messaging feature set that exists on all smartphones. It adds typing indicators, read receipts, emoji reactions, support for higher quality file sharing, and so on. In essence, it turns basic SMS into instant messaging and makes the Google Messages app an iMessage and WhatsApp competitor. Even though many of us have made our favorite chat apps a big part of our lives, there are times where we still need something simple and much more universal.
Many Android users are ready for this upgrade, and Google has taken it upon itself to expand the service, gaining greater carrier support with Google Messages becoming the default messaging app for most Android devices sold.
Where is Google's RCS officially available?
Google has now rolled out RCS via its Google Messages app worldwide with only a few countries lacking support. While carrier support is no longer specifically needed, you will need to be able to download the Google Messages app as well as access Google's services. RCS is powered by Google-owned Jibe Mobile, though Jibe noted in its global release announcement that in some cases, RCS availability depends on your device and service provider.
Since Google Messages has been made default by many manufacturers and it's downloadable on the others, you're free to use the feature on any of the best Android phones. You can also use any carrier, including prepaid carriers. This also allows you to pick the best cell phone plan regardless of the carrier without giving up chat features.
Finally, it's possible the default messaging app on your phone supports RCS already. Still, there are compatibility differences between some of these versions that may make certain features unavailable. Google has also added desirable features to its app such as end-to-end encryption that may not be available with other apps.
Apps that support RCS
Google Messages is the app that makes RCS chat features a reality to most Android users. Alongside an update to Carrier Services, Google Messages has brought RCS chat messaging to the platform regardless of carrier or manufacturer. This app can also handle your SMS and MMS messages from your friends that haven't upgraded to the new standard, including iPhone users. While a few other carrier apps have enabled the feature, Google Messages is the easiest way to enable RCS on Android.
Samsung users may have also noticed the feature in the default Samsung Messages app. It may be necessary to update your phone and apps to enable the feature.