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T-Mobile just hit a major milestone in cross-carrier RCS advanced messaging

Google Messages app
Google Messages app (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • T-Mobile now has a full standards-based RCS implementation for cross-carrier advanced messaging.
  • Full RCS chat features are now available to customers chatting with people on other carriers globally.
  • Nearly 40 phones T-Mobile sells support RCS Universal Profile.

T-Mobile has led the charge in the rollout of RCS messaging features in the U.S., and has now reached a big milestone with an announcement that it is now using a complete standards-based RCS implementation (opens in new tab). This has the important effect of meaning T-Mobile customers can now have rich RCS chats with people on other carriers around the world that also comply to the standard.

Every country and carrier that supports Google RCS

Now if you're a T-Mobile customer, you know you have all of the tools to use RCS chat.

One of the biggest ongoing issues with RCS messaging is its cross-carrier compatibility, with different carriers using their own slightly tweaked version of the protocol. It means that there are often disconnects in the features available when texting with people on different carriers — and things get extra messy when you start using group chats. But if every carrier just followed RCS Universal Profile 1.0, like T-Mobile now does, we'd all live happily ever after with true universal messaging. It'll surely never fully happen, but we're at least heading in the right direction.

Now you have one less hurdle in your way if you're on T-Mobile. You just have to be using a compatible phone (T-Mobile has nearly 40 it sells) with a compatible messaging app, which is easier than it's ever been now that Samsung's default messaging app supports it and anyone can download Google Messages (opens in new tab). If you're on T-Mobile, you're in a great position to have the best chance of having a fully-featured RCS conversation with someone. There's nothing else to do — just chat with your friends, and if they also check all of the boxes you'll start to see advanced messaging features like typing indicators, read receipts, and high-resolution photos and videos.

Google has been spearheading the effort to get carriers using fully standards-compliant RCS implementations, but obviously it's been a tough road to navigate since compliance is fully voluntary. But at least if you have T-Mobile you know you're not the one with the problem when a one-off chat or a group chat ends up defaulting back to the super-basic SMS of old.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

8 Comments
  • now At&t and Verizon needs to follow suit. it should automatically turn on since 70 percent of people don't know the feature exists. and if you want it off then find the setting to turn it off. but most people wont put in the effort to turn it off
  • > now At&t and Verizon needs to follow suit You and two (three?) other people who are interested in it can turn on "Chat features" in the Google's Messaging application on AT&T *today* (tested on two different phones -- 4 and 2 years old respectively). So, why didn't you?
  • It already works on att, I chat t-mobile users and get it.
  • Great. Now T-Mobile should tell manufacturers that it will not accept or sell phones that do not support the RCS standard.
  • This will help greatly, let's hope this follows suit with ATT and VZW. Now TMO needs to fix Visual voicemail on native clients for Android. Do that and I won't have any reason to switch to 🍎. Sadly that might be next decade with them.
  • This should move traction on RCS then. All that would be left is for Apple tp adopt it
  • I still use the standard messages I hate that I have 2 use 2 messaging apps and can only have one default at a time samsung messages just has stuff i use that I can't on Google messages so I stopped using Google messages cuz 2 apps annoyed me samsung messages is just better
  • Next step; bringing RCS and iMessage together in perfect harmony. 🌻🌄