RCS Chat, Google's vision for the future of messaging, is slowly rolling out to people around the globe. However, rather than waiting on carriers to adopt the RCS standard, Google's taking matters into its own hands and enabling RCS Chat for all phones regardless of carrier in select countries — you just have to use its Messages app. If your phone is supported, here's how to enable RCS Chat features in Google Messages.

The rollout is official in the UK, France and the U.S., with more countries coming onboard soon. This means that if you're in those countries it doesn't matter whether your carrier or manufacturer officially supports RCS, you can activate these features as long as you're using the official Google Messages app.

If you're not in one of those countries, there's still an unofficial "hack" way of activating RCS, which we detail below.

How to enable RCS Chat features in Google Messages in supported countries and on supported carriers

Note: This will work on all Android phones and carriers in the U.S., UK, and France, and on supported carriers in other countries like Canada.

  1. Open Google Messages on your Android phone.
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper-right corner.
  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Tap Chat features
  5. Enter your phone number.
  6. Tap Continue.

That's all there is to it! It may take several seconds for Google Messages to verify your phone number, but once it's completed, your Status should change from "Setting up" to "Connected." When you message someone else who also has RCS enabled, the chat will automatically offer the enhanced messaging experience.

How to enable RCS Chat in countries where it's not supported

If you're in a market or on a carrier that doesn't support RCS, here's how you can enable it anyway. It involves a bit of work and may be a bit intimidating for the average user, but once it's enabled it works exactly the same way as in official countries and on supported carriers.

  1. First, make sure you're using the beta version of the Google Messages app. Open this link on your phone, scroll down, and hit "join beta" on the listing. Update your app and make sure it says "Messages (beta)" before continuing.
  2. Download the Activity Launcher app on the Play Store
  3. Navigate to system settings on your phone, apps, find the "carrier services" app (make sure system apps are shown), and then clear storage data on that app
  4. Force stop the Messages (beta) app to make sure it's not running in the background
  5. Open up the Activity Launcher app you downloaded earlier. Tap "Recent Activities" at the top and then select "All Activities". Scroll down the list until you find the Messages app and click it to expand the options. Select "Set RCS Flags".
  6. Under the "ACS Url" section, select '"http://rcs-acs-prod-us.sandbox google.com/."
  7. Under the "OTP Pattern" section, select the only option available.
  8. Click Apply, then go back home and open Messages again. You should now be greeted by an RCS chat setup that's similar to the guide we published back in July.

It will probably take a few minutes, but once it's done you're all set and ready to chat. Not sure who to use this new feature on? Feel free to share it with everyone you know that has an Android phone and get them on board, too. RCS enables a slew of new features that SMS and MMS never had, including realtime delivery and read receipts, being able to see when other people are typing, the ability to attach large video files and high-quality photos, and so much more.

So far, this seems to work across several different versions of Android, different Android phones, and several different countries as well. We've tested it in the U.S., Canada, and several European countries. It seems that the only issues are phones with dual SIMs, and there's no workaround for the time being. So long as your phone supports the Messages Beta, this should work for you. Let us know how it goes for you, and happy messaging!

Did you activate RCS?

Let us know about your RCS experiences in the comments below!