Google has been talking for a long time about replacing simple SMS messaging with RCS (Rich Communications Services) to offer a more WhatsApp-like experience from your basic messaging app, and now, finally, it’s about to make the move. At least, it is for users in the UK and France.
According to The Verge (opens in new tab) in conversation with Google, the company will offer RCS to those in the UK and France later in June. It’s able to do this as it’s going to use its servers to offer RCS directly – previously it was working with mobile networks to get them to support it, but progress was slow, so it’s cutting out the middleman.
RCS will be an opt-in service through the standard Google Messages app. So you won’t need a new app and if you want to stick with SMS, you can.
- Mobile data is getting an upgrade too through 5G phones
- The iPhone 11 probably won't support Google's RCS service
- The Google Pixel 4 is on the way
But for most people this should be a worthwhile upgrade, as RCS enables things like read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality media, and other things typical of more modern messaging services.
The only major downside is that unlike things like WhatsApp and iMessage, it doesn’t support end-to-end encryption, so your communications aren’t as secure, though Google claims to be working on this.
Right now there’s no public timeframe for when specific countries other than the UK and France will get access to Google’s RCS upgrade, but more countries will apparently get it "throughout the year", so wherever you live you might not be waiting too long.
At the very least, you’re likely to get access to RCS faster than you would if Google was still waiting for networks to support it.