Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

What is RCS messaging? The Google Messages feature explained

Google ditched the classic SMS/MMS messaging protocol with RCS, which makes texting other Android users feel a lot more streamlined.

Text messages are still a popular way of communication, although it seems like they are being slowly overtaken by social media messaging sites such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram.

With that in mind, Google moved over from the original SMS messaging protocol and has started to use the RCS platform. We’re going to be running through everything you need to know about RCS messaging, including what it is and which handsets support it.

What is RCS messaging?

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. It was developed to replace the now ageing SMS and MMS messaging services. It first launched in 2007 and was then taken over by the GSM Association in 2008, with Google claiming that it was going to integrate the service onto the Android platform in 2018.

RCS works over Wi-Fi or mobile data and can only work when all participants in the conversation have access to RCS.

Why is RCS better than SMS?

RCS is a lot more capable and flexible than standard SMS messaging. It’s similar to popular messaging services like WhatsApp, implementing features like read receipts, GIFs, and emojis. It can also show when a user in the chat is active or currently typing.

RCS does not come with a character limit and allows users to send files and media, making it a lot more accessible than SMS.

Do Apple products support RCS messaging?

The main issue with RCS implementation is that Apple has not moved over to Google’s latest standard. Apple’s iOS uses its own standard when communicating through two iPhones, iMessage. iMessage has all of the features of RCS, including read receipts and emojis.

However, iMessage is only supported through two iOS devices. This means that when an iPhone user sends a text to an Android handset, it uses the standard SMS protocol, not RCS. This results in messages lacking some of these core features, and can make sending text messages feel a lot more cumbersome than using another dedicated third-party messaging service. 

broken iPhone android messaging

At the last Google I/O Developers conference, Google encouraged Apple to move over to the modern RCS standard to make communication between these two platforms easier and more streamlined. Apple seems to have no interest in picking up RCS anytime soon, but there is a chance that the company may be forced to adopt it over the next few years, in the same vein as the EU pushing USB-C charging to be used universally

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.