How to enable RCS messaging in Google Messages on Android phones

Not every major smartphone advancement is hardware-based or flashy, and RCS messaging (Rich Communication Services) is a good example of that. While the initial premise may sound boring, the RCS message is anything but. A huge upgrade to the outdated SMS-based text messaging we’ve enjoyed since the 1990s, RCS Messages turns your text messages into an advanced chat application, complete with read receipts, real-time response indicators and interactive media.

RCS has been in the works for a while, but it’s finally arrived on Android properly. First available as an exploit, Google introduced RCS support to its Google Messages app in late 2019. However, it’s not turned on by default, so you’ll have to do some digging to turn it on properly. While you’ll only get these features if both you and your recipient have RCS enabled, it’s still worth turning on, even if it’s by accident. Here’s how to enable RCS in Google Messages.

How to turn on RCS messaging in Google Messages

You will need to perform several steps to enable RCS messages, but it is important to consider the specific requirements. RCS will need to be available in your region and your carrier should support it, but most importantly, note that RCS will need your Wi-Fi or mobile data connection to use the new chat features. Without a data connection it simply won’t work. If your phone can’t find the connection, it will fall back to text messages. It’s not a huge problem, but something to keep in mind if you don’t have an unlimited plan.

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Before you enable RCS messaging, make sure that Google Messaging is set as your default messaging app in your phone’s settings. If you have Android One or Google Pixel, Google Message is your default. If your settings are something else, simply change them by going to the Settings app, then tapping Apps & notifications > Advanced > Default apps > SMS app. Then select the Messages app as your default messaging app. If you don’t have it, first download the Messages app from the Play Store. It will ask you to set it as your default messaging app after you launch it.

Okay, so you have Messages set as your primary messaging app. The next thing you need to do is open the app and go to Settings. Do this by tapping the three vertical dots in the upper right corner. Select Settings, then tap Chat features. Finally, Enable chat features to include RCS messages. Tapping this option will bring up a new bar. The message Setup (orange) will be displayed. Wait for the setup to complete. Within a few seconds the message should change to Connected (green). It might not work the first time, but you can always try the configuration again by selecting Setup. Of course, if your service provider or region does not allow RCS, you will not be able to perform the configuration.

RCS messaging isn’t the only way to customize your messages. From here you can enable/disable read receipts and typing indicators and learn more about specific chat features offered by RCS.

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