Google Fi users are about to get much better texting. Google announced that it’s rolling out RCS Chat to the Google Fi network, meaning users will get higher resolution images and videos, read receipts, typing indicators, and more.
Chat, which was largely developed by Google, has been rolling out in a limited way to Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers. Considering Google had such a big hand in its development, it’s a little strange to see the standard come to Fi after many other carriers. The standard should work on Pixel phones, Moto G6, LG V35, LG G7, and the Android One Moto X, although it can work on other Android phones as long as they use the Google Messages app. You will know if your phone supports it, too — those that have the Messages app will see a prompt alerting them to RCS’ features when it becomes available. Chat is a standardized version of Rich Communication Services, or RCS.
Another big feature to RCS is Business Messaging, which will allow for more interactive messaging with companies like airlines and stores.
While Chat does have a lot of advantages, there are also a few disadvantages. For starters, it’s not end-to-end encrypted like other messaging services, like Apple’s iMessage. That means that when Allo is phased out, Google won’t offer any encrypted messaging services to customers. RCS support is available to Fi customers starting Monday, January 14.
Ultimately, it’s hopeful that all carriers and manufacturers will support the Chat standard, but there are a few holdouts — like Apple. Rumors indicate Apple is “in discussions” to support Chat at some point, though we don’t expect the company to be in much of a rush given that it already has iMessage for iPhone-to-iPhone communication.
Apart from rolling out Chat support, Google is also offering better LTE speeds to Fi customers who roam. Those faster speeds will be available in 33 more countries, making it a really great option for those who travel a lot. Those countries include many parts of Europe, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and more. On Fi, users can roam while still paying the same $10-per-GB rate that they do in the U.S.
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