Rich Communication Services, or RCS, is a communication protocol that’s often described as the successor to SMS or an alternative to iMessage for Android. With RCS, users can exchange media files in high quality, see read receipts, see typing indicators, start group chats, and more over mobile data and even Wi-Fi. However, universal, app-independent RCS support requires carriers to implement the protocol in their networks, which some have done while others have dragged their feet on. Google has been pushing RCS adoption under its “Chat” banner, using the company’s own servers and “Messages” app to bypass the need for carrier adoption. So far, Google has rolled out RCS in the Google Messages app for users in the U.S., Spain, the U.K., and France, but now they’re expanding support to another European country: Italy.
The Italian rollout was first reported by Italian technology website TuttoAndroid (via AndroidPolice). While WhatsApp is widely used in Europe, RCS will prove to be a viable alternative that’s built into the main messaging app on your phone. This is convenient and easily accessible for the average user, which is especially important during these times when we’re all stuck at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is possible that we’ll also RCS roll out to other markets as well in the coming weeks. This is probably just wishful thinking, but we could even see a global release of RCS in the Messages app.
“Google Chat” rolling out in Messages for some users in Italy. Source: TuttoAndroid
TuttoAndroid indicates that the feature is rolling out independent of carrier support, so be sure to download the Messages app and check to see if the feature has rolled out for you. If the feature is available for you, you should be greeted by a “welcome to Chat” pop-up when you launch the app. Take note that all participants in a conversation have to enable “Chat” in order to use RCS features, otherwise you’ll fall back to SMS.
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