How to enable RCS messaging in Google Messages on Android phones

Not every major smartphone advance is hardware-based or flashy, and RCS messaging (rich communication services) is a solid example of that. While it sounds boring, in reality, RCS messaging is anything but. A massive upgrade to the outdated SMS-powered text messaging we’ve been enjoying since the 1990s, RCS messaging turns your text messages into a high-powered chat app, complete with read receipts, real-time reply indicators, and interactive media.

RCS has been in the pipeline for some time now, but it’s finally arrived on Android properly. First available as an exploit, Google rolled out RCS support for its Google Messages app in late 2019. However, it’s not turned on by default, so you’ll need to poke around to turn it on properly. While you’ll only get these features if both yourself and your recipient have RCS enabled, it’s still worth turning on, even if it’s only on the off-chance. Here’s how to enable RCS in Google Messages.

How to turn on RCS messaging in Google Messages

You’ll need to complete a few steps to turn on RCS messaging, but it’s important to take note of the specific requirements. RCS will need to have been enabled in your region and by your carrier, but most importantly, keep in mind that RCS will need your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection to use the new chat features. Without a data connection, they simply won’t work. Of course, without a connection, it will revert to SMS messaging, so it’s not a deal-breaker for many — but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you have a limited amount of mobile data.

First of all, you’ll need to be using Google Messages as your main text messaging app. Some phones, like those running Android One or Google’s Pixels, will already be using it as the default messaging app, but if you don’t, you’ll need to download the Messages app from the Play Store and open it up. It will ask you to set it as the default messaging app, but if you skip that step by mistake, you can change your default messaging app by going to the Settings app, then hitting Apps and notifications > Advanced > Default apps > SMS app. Then select the Messages app as your default messaging app.

Next, you’ll need to open the Messages app, and open the settings by tapping the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner and selecting Settings. From there, tap Chat features and tap Enable chat features to turn RCS messaging on. A new bar will appear above the option, and will display Setting up in orange while you’re verified. When it’s finished, it will read Connected in green. If it’s not changing to the Connected message, hit retry and check to make sure RCS in enabled in your region and with your carrier.

Once enabled, you can start to play with your other options. You’ll be able to toggle read receipts and typing indicators from here, as well as learn more about the specific chat features offered by RCS.

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