Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging is a new texting standard that Google has been pushing for a while to replace SMS and MMS for Android users.
End-to-end encryption for one-on-one messages was first made available by the company in late 2020. The main goal is to compete with Apple’s iMessage and its distinctive blue bubbles, but this has been a gradual and sometimes arduous process. It’s good that Google Messages will be offering parity on this front since end-to-end encryption for all discussions has long been a key differentiation between iMessage and Google Messages.
Google’s RCS Triumph
Google, however, has enabled the Rich Communication Services (RCS) features as the default messaging protocol for its Messages app, following a beta release back in December 2022, indicating a significant advancement in its ongoing RCS initiatives.
In addition to end-to-end encryption, RCS offers several great communications improvements over standard SMS, such as typing indicators, read receipts, and the ability to share high-resolution photos and videos. However, despite Google’s best efforts, Apple hasn’t yet adopted RCS; if it had, texting between iPhones and Android devices would likely be much better. Instead, Apple would prefer that you just buy an iPhone.
Since introducing RCS to American Android users in 2019, Google has waged a campaign to persuade Apple to include the technology into its messaging platform, iMessage. Even a website explaining the benefits of RCS was built last year, with the statement “It’s not about the color of the bubbles. It’s the blurry videos, broken group chats, missing read receipts, and typing indicators, no texting over Wi-Fi and more.”
Unless a user had previously turned off RCS in their Settings, Google claims the feature will now be enabled by default for all users. After today’s launch, users will still be able to opt-out by turning RCS off in Settings, according to a help document.
Users can use end-to-end encryption, share high-resolution photos and videos, see typing indicators, get read receipts, send messages over mobile data and Wi-Fi, and rename, edit, and remove themselves from group chats, all of which are available to iMessage users already when RCS is enabled.