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Google is launching RCS messaging on Sprint, with other carriers on the roadmap

Derek Walter | Nov. 7, 2016
You'll get real-time typing notifications, messaging over Wi-Fi, and other features that will make SMS work a lot more like iMessage.

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.

rcs android
A better messaging experience is finally on the way.

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.

google messenger
Look for a notice if enhanced services are coming to your Messenger app.

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.

enhanced features
Once RCS shows up, you’ll be able to flip on specific features inside of Google’s Messenger app.

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.


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