Sanaz Ahari, Google Sr. Director of Product & Design, announced Thursday via Twitter that RCS is now available for all Android users in the U.S.
“Hi everyone! RCS is now available to all users in US as of Monday. Make sure to update both Messages and Carrier Services,” Ahari said in her tweet.
Rich Communications Service (RCS) has long been touted as the replacement for SMS. The messaging protocol adds group texts, group management (adding/removing participants), read receipts, typing indicators, chat over WiFi and more.
Originally, Google was waiting for carriers to implement the protocol, but they made little real progress. Two months ago, the four major U.S. carriers announced the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI), based on RCS. Since then, however, there has been no visible progress. As a result, several weeks ago Google announced it was taking matters into its own hands and beginning to active RCS.
With Thursday’s announcement, the activation is now complete, giving all Android users Apple iMessage-style communication. The only major feature that is still lacking is end-to-end encryption. iMessage, as well as apps like Signal and WhatsApp all support end-to-end encryption, but it is not part of the RCS protocol. With privacy increasingly being front-and-center, it would be surprising if Google does not figure out a way to implement it.
In the meantime, as Ahari highlights, users should update Messages and Carrier Services to take advantage of RCS.