Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging

Author: Anagha Ravi

What is RCS messaging?

RCS messaging, where RCS stands for Rich Communication Services, is a communication protocol that enables users to send messages with rich multimedia experiences and advanced functionality compared to SMS. The goal of RCS Messaging is to replace SMS.

History of RCS messaging

To learn the history of RCS, we must go back to the birth of SMS, way back in 1982.

The original idea behind SMS was to send texts via the same signaling system that controlled telephone traffic (it took nearly a decade of work!). And in December of 1992, Neil Papworth texted “merry Christmas” to a customer with the first ever SMS message.

By 2010, 6.1 trillion messages were being exchanged by cellular devices. Cut to 2022 – 15 million texts are sent every minute!

The rise in SMS also led to the birth of apps like WhatsApp, Line, and Facebook Messenger – apps that only continued to grow in popularity as they gained over 1.2 billion users.

Despite this, SMS hasn’t changed all that much, never evolving beyond its 160-character limits. That’s when the idea of RCS messaging came about – it was time for a change.

What’s the difference between RCS, SMS, and MMS messaging?

So how does RCS relate to other primarily messaging formats?

Let’s find out!

SMS (Short Message Service): It’s the most commonly used form of texting, and best of all, you don’t need mobile data or WiFi to send or receive them!

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service): As the name implies, you can send multimedia formats like video, audio, GIFs, and images.

RCS (Rich Communication Services): RCS combines the best of the SMS and MMS into their Android platform. RCS is exclusive to improving the Android messaging experience.

How to use RCS messaging

If you’re using Android Messages to text your friends and family, you can use RCS chat.

Google and Samsung partnered together so that RCS works seamlessly on both Android Message apps and Samsung Messages.

RCS is not universally supported. You might not be able to use it if you own a non-Android device like an iPhone.
If you already have an Android, you can activate RCS messaging by:

  1. Download Google’s Messages app if you don’t already have it.
  2. Open the app and select the three-dot menu in the top-right.
  3. Go to settings, then General.
  4. Once under General, select Chat features.
  5. If Chat is something your device can use, you’ll be able to tap a slider and select “Yes, I’m in” from a popup.
  6. Now, all you have to do is verify your number, and you’ve got RCS!

Now you can check read receipts and see if your friends are typing messages.

What are the benefits of RCS?

RCS messaging is designed to make messaging more attractive and affordable for Android users. It adds read receipts, lets you know when someone is typing, and adds reactions to messages.

RCS Messaging seeks to bring SMS to the next generation with some of the features that major over-the-top messaging application providers like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger offer today like audio and video messages, high-resolution imagery, read receipts, and real-time response notifications.

Who supports RCS messaging?

Because RCS is a newer protocol, it is not yet supported by all device manufacturers or all carriers.

There are around 60 supporters. This number is split between mobile operators, OEMs, and OS providers. Carriers like T-Mobile were eager to add this feature, but some were wary of the software and network updates required. That’s why Google services RCS messages via an app so they don’t have to count on carrier support.

What’s the future of RCS?

More and more business markets are starting to include RCS messaging to better engage their customers. This kind of messaging is a way to stand out from competitors and keep customers engaged. Learn more about the future of messaging here.