RCS or Rich Communication Services is a messaging protocol that was first developed by a group of people in 2007 and then adopted by GSMA (GSM Association). The protocol is heavily marketed by Google and is often referred to as “a replacement for iMessage,” which makes sense from both Google and user standpoints, considering that iMessage still uses the less secure, old SMS protocol and uses the blue/green protocol. bubbles controversy. What exactly is RCS and is it the next evolution in communication? Let us find out the same in this article.
What is RCS?
RCS stands for Rich Communication Services and is a messaging protocol created to replace the old SMS/MMS protocol. Unlike SMS/MMS, which have character and media size limits and only work on a carrier network, RCS has no character limit and supports sending all types of media in high quality.
Google added the first support for RCS in Android in 2019 and called the protocol ‘Chat’. It has since gained a lot of traction, with both Google and Samsung adopting the same in their respective messaging platforms: Google Messages and Samsung Chat. There are many reasons to use RCS instead of SMS and some of them include the ability to send high quality SMS messages, read receipts and all types of media using mobile data or WiFi. end-to-end encryption in the case of Chat in Google Messages, among other advantages over SMS.
How does RCS work?
As we mentioned earlier, RCS is more of a technical name. A friendlier name that Google gave it is ‘Chat Protocol’. It’s similar to WhatsApp in many ways, except it’s tied to your carrier. Therefore, carriers must enable support for RCS (Chat) so that you can send text messages over Wi-Fi and mobile data. Initially, Google wanted phone manufacturers to integrate it into their platforms, but since most of them did not want to do so, it then decided to add RCS to its own messaging platform ‘Google Messages’.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Chat can only send messages over mobile data or Wi-Fi if the other party is also using Chat. Otherwise the message will be sent as an SMS. Before sending the message, the messaging app will let you know if the other party is using an Android device with RCS enabled by using the placeholder entry in the “RCS message” text box. It’s also worth mentioning that Google encrypts RCS messages on Google Messages, but RCS doesn’t have encryption by default.
Enabling RCS is quite simple. All you need is a carrier that supports it and an Android device running Android 5.0 or higher. Once the criteria is met, follow the steps below:
1. Install Google Posts if you haven’t already.
2. To check if your carrier supports RCS, tap your profile photo in the top right corner and go to settings.
3. Tap on RCS Chats and if the status is Connected, it means your carrier supports it and you can easily chat on the network.
It’s worth noting that you can’t use RCS without a SIM card in your device. RCS may rely solely on WiFi and mobile data, but it still requires a mobile network to function.
That said, here’s an image showing all the carriers that currently support this.
What’s next for RCS?
So far despite his best effortsGoogle has had no success pushing the RCS story to Apple. It has relentlessly tried to force the Cupertino giant to adopt the RCS protocol and end the decades-long green/blue bubble war. For those who don’t know, RCS supported messages appear in green color while iMessages that support the older SMS protocol appear in blue color in the iMessage app. This gave rise to the whole iPhone Blue vs Android Green speech bubble controversy.
And from a business perspective, it makes sense why Apple hasn’t shown interest, as the bubble controversy helps them lure Android users to the iPhone and make more money. Unlike the West, where the majority use iOS and iMessage, platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger dominate in regions like Asia and even Europe.
This leaves the technology in no man’s land, except for the adoption figures presented by Google at I/O 2021, where the number of RCS users had exceeded 800 million, which is a huge achievement. According to the folks at Juniper Research, the number of users is expected to exceed 1.1 billion by 2024, a far cry from the 2 billion-plus WhatsApp users and 1.3 billion iMessage users in 2022. It’s clear that Google has a needs a huge boost for RCS, which the company can get from Apple. But aside from mistreating Android users and Google trying to promote “Get the Message” slogans, Apple has yet to take any action.