Google has passed a significant milestone, registering more than one billion monthly active RCS users.
RCS is the successor to SMS, bringing improved security and features on par with Apple’s iMessage. The path to RCS adoption has been somewhat rocky, with carriers initially slow to embrace the new protocol. Google finally took matters into its own hands and began rolling out the feature across Android. Even Apple recently announced it would adopt RCS in 2024 as a fallback protocol for iPhone to Android communication.
In a blog post, Google touted the milestone:
By replacing the outdated SMS and MMS protocols, users benefit from a more modern and secure messaging experience with typing indicators, read receipts, threaded replies, high-quality media sharing, improved group chats, better privacy like end-to-end encryption and more with RCS. RCS is a much better messaging protocol, and we know that people love using it.
Today marks a new milestone that we are incredibly proud of: There are now more than one billion monthly active users with RCS enabled in Google Messages. We are grateful to our partners and our users that have advocated for RCS over the years — it’s been a lot of work to get here, and we want to thank you. Beyond Google Messages, there are other messaging clients that use RCS and we are pleased that Apple also took their first step two weeks ago in announcing that they’re embracing RCS.
Coinciding with the news, Google has unveiled seven new features for Google Messages:
- Photomoji is very similar to Apple’s Memoji, using on-device AI to transform photos into emojies.
- Voice Moods combines visual effects with your voice.
“With nine different emotions to choose from, your voice can sprinkle heart-eye emoji, fume with fireballs or break out the party popper so the recipient can hear your words along with a visual effect that expresses how you’re feeling at that moment.”
- Screen Effects uses on-screen effects to accentuate your message.
- Custom Bubbles provides customization options for bubble color and chat background.
- Reaction Effects are designed to improve the basic emojoi reactions users are accustomed to.
“Picture this: Your friend texts you to let you know the two of you have reservations to that trendy new restaurant that everyone has been buzzing about. If you react to the message with a simple 👍 emoji, magic instantly unfolds as an animated trio of hands dances around the message bubble.”
- Animated Emojis infuse “each message with a captivating burst of visual effects.”
- Profiles provides a way to set your picture and name, so that even those who don’t have your phone number in their contacts will still know who you are.
The additional features are welcome additions to Google Messages.