Google's RCS messaging features are now available to all Android users globally. RCS chat is available in Google's Messages app for Android, which you can download from the Play Store. To see if you've got RCS chat features enabled, open the Messages app, tap the three-dot button in the upper-right corner, tap "Settings", and select "Chat features".
RCS, or Rich Communication Services, offers several benefits over standard SMS text messaging. It enables you to send messages over Wi-Fi as well as cellular data, send and receive higher quality photos and videos, get read receipts so you know when your sent message was read, and share reactions. Some businesses use RCS for customer support, too.
And starting today, Google is adding end-to-end encryption to RCS chats in Messages, too. End-to-end encryption means that no one, not even Google, can read your messages as they travel between you and the person you're chatting with.
End-to-end encryption is rolling out to beta testers in the Messages app starting this month and testing will continue into next year. Visit this page to become an open beta tester for the Messages app.
To start, end-to-end encryption will only be available in one-on-one chats in the Messages app while using RCS. You'll know that you're using end-to-end encryption if you see a small lock icon next to your "Send" button and on the timestamps of messages. You'll also see a lock symbol and "Chatting with [contact name or phone number]" on your conversation.
This is all big news for Android messaging. RCS is a big upgrade over standard text messaging, and now all Android users around the world have access to it just by using Google's Messages app. And now Google is starting to make RCS chats in Messages even better with end-to-end encryption, ensuring that your private chats stay private.