This story was originally published and last updated .
After Google deployed RCS (Rich Communication Services) in the U.S. without the help of the
four three big carriers, the company seems to be set to repeat that effort internationally. People in multiple, mostly European countries report that they’re able to use RCS features in the Messages app. That might indicate that we’ll soon see RCS functionality in even more parts of the world.
Android Police has been fielding reports of RCS activation from our readers and local publications. We’ve got a region-by-region timeline below:
- New Zealand
- Sri Lanka
It didn’t look like the carriers in any of those countries were turning on RCS given the sheer volume of people getting the feature — local sources like Italy’s TuttoAndroid, Czechia’s Dotekomanie, and Portugal’s Pplware say as much — so we presume that Google is continuing its own rollout efforts.
Left & Middle: Singapore rollout. Right: Italy rollout.
Messages users in these areas see a banner when they open the app explaining how RCS works and the fact that they can now enable it, just like in the U.S. last year. The feature can also be activated via Messages’s settings if you dismiss the pop-up initially. It’s currently unclear whether other RCS-compatible apps like Samsung Messages are in on the function as well, but since the augmented text messages seem to be rolling out thanks to Google’s doing, it’s unlikely.
As we explained in our extensive FAQ post on the topic, RCS is basically the next-gen replacement for SMS/MMS. It allows you to send messages and media between RCS-compatible devices over data connections, including Wi-Fi. The service behaves like an instant messenger, giving you features like read receipts, typing indicators, and proper group conversation support.
Like most things Google touches, the update appears to roll out as a server-side change. You can check if it’s already available to you by heading to Messages’ settings and tapping the Chat features entry. Hopefully, RCS will soon be enabled for more people around the world to replace or at least augment the ancient SMS technology.
We posted two separate batches of new regions today thanks in no small part to our dedicated readers and have reformatted our bulleted list into a timeline.
- Rúben Santos,
- igor on the internet,