Rich Communication Services, or better known as RCS, is the replacement for the age-old MMS/SMS text messaging that cell phones have been using for decades. Needless to say, smartphones outgrew this old standard a long time ago, but the companies that provide your cell phone service (carriers) haven’t been able to agree on very much regarding the new standard until very recently.
Google finally decided to stop waiting on the carriers to get their act together last month and began rolling out RCS to Android phones U.S.-wide, but not all U.S. carriers were supported with the initial release. Yesterday, when I was texting a friend on Verizon, I noticed that the message box all of a sudden said “chat message” instead of “text message”, denoting that RCS had been enabled on said friend’s phone.
Sure enough, 9to5Google confirmed that the most recent update of the Carrier Services app, version 32, enables RCS on a significant number of new phones, including those on Verizon. So far, I’ve been able to personally confirm that the Galaxy S10, Note 10, and all Google Pixel phones support RCS on Verizon and, likely, most other Android phones do as well. All you’ll need is the Google Messages app and to make sure your Carrier Services app is up to date.
What, exactly, will RCS do for you? Aside from changing the color of the bubbles (yes, I know), it also enables some great quality of life features like being able to see when the person on the other side is typing, and when they’ve seen or read your message. It also lifts the restrictions that MMS places on images and videos, allowing you to send full resolution pictures and videos to your friends without having to worry about them being pixellated or nasty looking when they arrive.
Unfortunately, RCS isn’t compatible with iOS devices at this time, so you’ll still show up as a green bubble with the usual restrictions that SMS/MMS brings until either Apple agrees to play ball with RCS, or the carriers figure out a cross-platform solution.