Stop being jealous of iMessage, Android now launching Fancy texting.

Stop being jealous of iMessage, Android now launching Fancy texting.

Android phones do many things well, but when it comes to texting, the iPhone has Google beat. Apple’s iMessage app supports group messaging and read receipts, and has that addictive blue bubble that automatically texts other iPhone users over Wi-Fi, not just your cellular data connection. The fact that Android phone makers use different messaging apps by default keeps the act of texting from becoming as indispensable as iMessage is to iPhone users.

Google wants to change all that, and is working with US carriers to make text messaging more powerful, more consistent across Android phones and more fun to use. It will take work, though, namely getting carriers to adopt a messaging protocol called RCS.

Here’s a look at what RCS is and does, what it’ll give you and when you might be able to start using it on your Android phone.

What does RCS in Android mean?

RCS is a type of messaging protocol that stands for Rich Communication Services. When it’s widely available, it will replace SMS, the text messaging standard that’s been used since the 1990’s.
SMS messaging has evolved some over the years, expanding past the original 160 character limit and adding MMS (multimedia messaging) for sending pictures and videos. However, SMS is starting to show its age and limitations. RCS would allow texting on Android to be as flexible and powerful as text message platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat, for example.

Group messaging gets a whole lot better with RCS messaging.

How will RCS in Android make texting better?

The biggest change is that RCS messaging will let you share high-resolution photos, videos, GIFs and texts over Wi-Fi as well as over your phone’s data connection. You’ll be able to see if contacts are available, when they’re typing to you and when they’ve read a message. Group conversations will also see improvements.
It’s basically iMessage, but for Android.
Google has an entire website dedicated to explaining the benefits of RCS messaging if you want to get into the finer details.

What other features will RCS in Android have?

Once RCS messaging becomes more prominent, you’ll be able to chat with businesses to place and track orders, make payments and get help with a product. Business chat is something that Apple’s iMessage platform currently has, but bringing a similar feature to Android users is a welcome addition.

How RCS texting will work on Android phones

If you have a phone and use a wireless carrier that supports RCS (more on this in a minute) you should only need to open Google’s Messages app and follow the prompts when asked if you want to use chat features.
After chat is enabled, you can continue to use the Messages app as you normally do, but whenever you’re talking to someone who also has the feature turned on, you’ll get the added features of RCS messaging.
Some device-makers, like Samsung, have integrated Google’s RCS platform into its own default Messages app, and over time companies like LG could do the same. But right now, your best bet is to use Google’s Messages app. Doing so will give you the added benefit of being able to send text messages from your computer, and you’ll receive an alert whenever RCS messaging is available for your phone and carrier.