Verizon previously said that it planned to launch support for Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging in early 2019, and it looks like the big red carrier has just made it in during the first half of the year.
A new support page on the Verizon website offers information on VZW's Advanced Messaging service, which uses RCS (via Android Police). Advanced Messaging is currently only available on the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, but Verizon says that it will be added to more devices "in the future."
To enable Advanced Messaging in your Samsung Messages app, you can go into the Settings in your Messages app and tap Chat Settings. If you see this menu, then Advanced Messaging is available on your phone.
Verizon's RCS-based Advanced Messaging service is currently only available to postpaid customers. It's also only compatible with other Verizon devices, meaning if you try to chat with someone on another carrier, you'll revert to SMS and MMS messaging.
RCS-based messaging offers a lot of benefits over the standard SMS messaging that most of us are used to. It lets you send much longer messages up to 8000 characters long, supports group chats up to 100 participants, and lets you chat over Wi-Fi. You also get typing indicators and read receipts, support for transferring larger files, and support for sending higher-quality photos and video.
It's nice to see Verizon get its RCS support rolling like it said it would, but the limitations are a bit disappointing. It's limited to two phones, and because it doesn't use Google's Jibe servers for RCS, the Verizon RCS messaging isn't compatible with the RCS messaging used by the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL on Verizon and other carriers. The state of RCS messaging in the U.S. isn't great, so all of this isn't too surprising, but it's also kind of a bummer.