Turn on Chat and you’ll experience next-generation features including read receipts, real-time typing indicators, large file transfers, and reliable group messaging. Based on Rich Communication Services (RCS), the standard aims to replace traditional SMS texting. Just maintain a decent cellular or Wi-Fi connection, and of course the recipient of your messages will also need an Android device.
The list of countries supported by Chat now includes the United States, United Kingdom, and France. Google started testing its RCS standard in the United Kingdom and France earlier this year, but it needed availability in the United States where SMS texting remains very popular. Other countries rely heavily on third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Both the Google Messages and the Carriers Services apps require updates in order for Google’s RCS standard to be activated. Once you’re on the latest version, head into the Google Messages app’s settings and select “Chat features.” The app will let you turn on Chat and choose which features to use. So you don’t necessarily need to use read receipts or typing indicators. Instead, pick and choose what you want.
“Hi everyone! RCS is now available to users in US as of Monday,” Google’s Sanaz Ahari revealed on Twitter. “Make sure to update both Messages and Carrier services.”
It might not be the only standard to exist, though. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are designing another technology through the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative. The joint venture’s standard could reach more Android devices by enabling support at the network level. Some Android devices don’t ship with the Google Messages app, which Google’s Chat requires.
Google plans on rolling out support in additional countries next year. Ahari didn’t reveal any specifics, but she told everyone to “stay tuned” as Chat continues expanding around the world. Without assistance from carriers or hardware manufacturers, it shouldn’t take long for Google to offer its RCS standard on all Android devices no matter the location.