The lowly text message has been around forever and is one of the most ubiquitous forms of mobile communication, despite the rapid growth of messages services such as WhatsApp, Line, Facebook Messenger, and Apple's iMessage. But standard SMS messaging has a bunch of limitations, such as slow response, file size limitations on picture and video attachments, and no way to tell if your message has been received or read by the other party. Today, T-Mobile announced a new feature for its customers that addresses a number of those limitations while still preserving the ease and ubiquity of standard text messages.
T-Mobile's new Advanced Messaging service is built on the Rich Communications Service (RCS) standard and adds near real-time chatting for one on one and group messages; typing indicators and read notifications; and the ability to send photos and videos up to 10MB in size. It doesn't require the use of another app or for either party to sign up for another service. The carrier says that it built the service to work "across all devices, makers and operating systems, and wireless operators", though for now, it is the only carrier in the US that supports RCS.
These features can work across carriers, but for now, T-Mobile is the only one supporting them
Advanced Messaging may work on every device and platform, but existing devices will need software updates to enable it. T-Mobile says those are coming soon for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6, with "nearly a dozen more" devices coming with it enabled out of the box this year. The new Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime, available starting today, is officially the first device with support for it. The system will fall back to standard SMS or MMS messages when there isn't an Advanced Messaging compatible device in play. A Wi-Fi or LTE connection is also required for the advanced features to work.
The new service doesn't cost anything more for T-Mobile customers, and the carrier says that it is just the first of many new features coming that are built on the RCS standard. T-Mobile has often been on the vanguard of new services such as VoLTE and now Advanced Messaging, so it will be interesting to see how the other carriers respond and how long before they do.