The days of boring ol’ SMS may finally be coming to a close.
Google announced Friday that it’s launching Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging for Android phones on Sprint. If you Google’s Messenger app, you’ll be able to flip the feature on and get real-time typing notifications, high-resolution photo sharing, read receipts, and other features. Google is supporting the new Universal Profile, which lets RCS services inter-operate between carriers and regions.
The switch may already have been flipped by the time Google made the announcement, as an Android Police report included screenshots from some Sprint users who were already being notified about the change.
If you’re one of the lucky ones to get the upgrade, you’ll apparently have to disable battery notifications, and then you’ll be able to toggle on a setting to “enable enhanced features.”
Google says it’s partnered with 58 carriers and manufacturers, which means that RCS could eventually hit a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people. The company’s purchase of Jibe is a key part of this effort, which is to build a universal platform for advanced messaging that any carrier can support.
We’ll be sure to keep tabs on the major U.S. carriers to see when they’re planning to jump aboard. Verizon support would also be key, considering that Google partnered exclusively with Big Red to sell the Pixel in carrier stores.
The impact on you: It’s RCS, not Allo, that will bring the ubiquity of iMessage-style features to all. The reason iMessage works so well and has such wide adoption is twofold—it’s the default messaging app, and it seamlessly supports both SMS and more advanced iMessage features. RCS has a similar approach, and can bake those type of helpful features like typing notifications and messaging over Wi-Fi without the need to sign up for another messaging service.