With RCS, Android users now have access to key features, including read receipts that tell users when people they’re chatting with have seen their messages, the ability to send richer media, like high-resolution images, and typing bubbles that let users see when the person they’re chatting with is typing a message.
Overall, RCS is a major improvement compared to SMS. But if you’re new to RCS, you likely have plenty of questions.
RCS is the new messaging protocol on Android devices. It’s an alternative for SMS and more closely matches the features available in Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. With RCS, you’ll be able to send richer, more engaging text messages than you could on SMS.
RCS is a major upgrade over SMS. For instance, in SMS, you could send basic text messages with images that would often look small and pixelated.
With RCS, the experience is much better. You can now send GIFs and high-resolution photos and videos. And although SMS messages were limited to 160 characters, RCS has no character limit. You can even send much larger files over RCS, like PDFs and Word documents.
Depending on your preferences, you can decide whether you want to send read receipts with RCS (something you couldn’t do with SMS). Typing bubbles will also show up in RCS chats, so you can see when friends are writing you something.
Group chatting is available on RCS, and you can name the chat groups you’re in. And if you want to send messages over Wi-Fi or cellular connections, it’ll work either way.
Interestingly, RCS could be a boon for businesses. Now, companies can send information like delivery information and order statuses that can show maps or images instead of plain text. Chatting will also be easier and more visual between companies and consumers.
With this release, RCS works on all U.S. carrier networks and all Android devices. It’s available in the Android Messages app on all Android devices. RCS also works with the Samsung’s messaging app on Galaxy phones.
Unlike WhatsApp, RCS doesn’t support end-to-end encryption, which encrypts messages as they travel from sender to recipient. That means messages sent over RCS could technically be intercepted and viewed by third-parties.
Apple’s iMessage and WhatsApp both use end-to-end encryption, so the only people who can read the messages are those in the chat. That has been a major point of contention between Apple and law enforcement agencies, which have wanted access to messages sent over iMessage for their investigative work.
RCS is available for free to all Android users. Better yet, they don’t need to download an app to make it work. Instead, users need to update their phone’s carrier services app, which refreshes their phone’s connection to the carrier network to get all the latest features, including RCS. Users also need to update their messaging app.