RCS messaging is better than SMS/MMS, and the sooner carriers support Google's open-source platform, the easier it will be for third-party apps to adopt it.
T-Mobile may be joining the ranks of carriers like Sprint and Rogers with support for Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging, an evolution of SMS and MMS. While the company has offered RCS since 2015, the new rollout utilizes Google’s Universal RCS platform.
RCS is the next-generation of text messaging — you can send messages longer than 160 characters, have improved group chats, read receipts, high-resolution photo sharing, typing indicators, and more. It’s essentially modernizing text-messaging to be on par with Internet Protocol-based messaging, such as apps like iMessage and Facebook Messenger.
Google acquired Jibe in 2015, and promised a standardized RCS text-messaging platform that would work with non-Android devices. Unlike IP-based messaging systems, RCS requires carrier implementation — which explains the slow adoption rate.
The application that will make use of RCS features on Android is Google Messenger — an app that’s preinstalled on many Android smartphones. When Sprint announced support for Google’s RCS platform, the carrier also said it would preinstall Google Messenger onto every Android phone it sells starting in 2017. T-Mobile hasn’t made any announcements yet, but some customers are reporting that T-Mobile is starting a limited rollout.
We are unable to verify whether T-Mobile is rolling out support, though the company has previously stated it will add Jibe support early 2017. We have reached out to T-Mobile and will update this article when we learn more.
Other texting apps, like Textra, have announced plans to also support the platform — so you’ll have more options rather than only having to use Google’s app.
We don’t know yet what Verizon’s plans are for RCS, even though it is a signatory for the GSMA Universal Profile. AT&T, on the other hand, offers RCS messaging in its own texting app, but it’s not compatible with Google’s Jibe platform.