In November, Google said that it was starting to roll out RCS Chat, the successor to SMS, as Android’s primary texting platform, and as of Monday, if you are an Android user on any carrier in the US, you should now be able to use it — though you may need to update your Messages app and carrier settings (via Android Central).
In theory, RCS messaging should be an improvement over regular SMS, as it supports read receipts, typing indicators, and is better for group chats. Unlike Apple’s iMessage, though, RCS doesn’t support end-to-end encryption, so you’ll need to use a third-party app like Signal if you want to send encrypted messages.
Google first said RCS would become Android’s primary texting platform more than a year and a half ago, so this has been a long time coming. But even though RCS has taken a while to arrive, it could have taken even longer. Google originally relied on the carriers to roll out RCS, but they dragged their feet so much that Google decided to do the rollout itself.
The completed rollout was confirmed on Twitter by Sanaz Ahari, the product management director in charge of Android Messages. When will RCS be rolling out to other countries? Ahari would only say “stay tuned.”