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Google has switched on a more advanced form of text messaging in the UK, called Rich Communication Service (RCS). I wrote an article about RCS and all the features it brings recently, but now it’s live, you’ll definitely want to have it on your Android phone. So how do you get it?
Install Android Messages
The first thing you have to do is make sure you’re running Android Messages, Google’s own text messaging app. If not, install it using that link; it’s completely free.
When you install the app and fire it up for the first time, it will ask whether you want it to become your default SMS app. Select Yes.
If you have another SMS app in the shortcuts at the bottom of your home screen, you might want to swap it for Android Messages. Just push down and drag the old messages app out and put Android Messages in.
Turn on the chat features
Android Messages is a great text messaging app with loads of new features, which I’ll cover in a review later this week.
However, if you want to take full advantage of RCS and the advanced features it offers – such as the ability to send messages via Wi-Fi/data and read receipts – then you need to specifically turn on the chat features.
The app might ask you to do this the first time you use it. If it doesn’t, click on the three dots in the top-right corner of the Messages app, select Settings and then click on Chat Features.
(Note that some pre-installed versions of Messages have a slightly differnt interface, so you may need to follow your nose to find the chat features.)
It should run you through the short setup procedure if you’re not already enabled. If you are, you should see “Status: connected” at the top of the screen.
How do I know if it’s working?
Android Messages can send messages via old-fashioned SMS/MMS or the new RCS chat protocols. But how do you know which it’s using?
If the person you’re messaging doesn’t have Android Messages or another RCS-compatible app installed or they’ve not turned on the chat features as described above, the message will send via SMS/MMS. You will see a little SMS/MMS label below the message you’ve sent and the message itself will be on a light blue background, as shown below:
If they do have Android Messages and chat enabled, the message will appear on a dark blue background. You will get little notifications beneath the message when it’s been delivered and read, and you may even see when the person is composing a reply – much like you see in apps such as WhatsApp.
It’s worth noting that if you read your messages on a computer (via the Windows 10 Your Phone app, for example) messages will be sent via SMS and not RCS. That means you won’t get read receipts etc.
There are loads of great features in Android Messaging beyond RCS, and I’ll run you through those later in the week.
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