Google: All Android users in the US just got RCS next-gen SMS

RCS has arrived; users should update both the Google Messages app and its Carrier Services app.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google says it has completed its US rollout of Rich Communication Services (RCS) to Android users in the US, bringing Apple iMessage-like chat features to its mobile platform. 

The company began rolling out RCS broadly to US users in November via the Google Messages app. Users would need to enable chat features from an app update distributed via the Google Play Store, Google said at the time. 

Google's product management director for Messages and Duo, Sanaz Ahari, says that users will need to also update the Google Carrier Services app to enable the new chat features. 

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"Hi everyone! RCS is now available to all users in US as of Monday. Make sure to update both Messages and Carrier Services," she said on Twitter.  

RCS allows Android users to chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send hi-res videos and photos, create group chats, add and remove people from groups, and see when people have read a group message. 

One criticism of RCS is that it doesn't provide end-to-end encryption, which puts it out of step with anti-snooping features on iMessage, WhatsApp and Signal.

Google launched RCS in the UK and France easier this year despite lacking support from local carriers. 

While users on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon should be able to use Google's Messages app with RCS now, the four carriers are planning to launch their own RCS messaging app in 2020 that doesn't involve Google.   

Google last week also announced 'Verified SMS' to tackle the problem of SMS phishing using well known brands. Users can enable the feature in Settings. Businesses that use SMS marketing can register with Google, which handles a message authentication process based on the user's phone number.   

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"When Verified SMS is on and you receive a message from a business registered with Google, Google translates the message you receive into an unreadable authenticity code, all on your device," Google explains in a support page. 

"Then, Google compares this code with unreadable authenticity codes sent to Google by the business. If these codes (also referred to as message hash or message HMAC) match, Google confirms that the message content was sent by the business, and Messages shows you information about the business, such as the business' logo with a "verified" icon.

"Google uses your device's phone number to create authenticity codes. Google doesn't see your messages, including when authenticity codes are sent to Google directly from the business."

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