Although you are at the strength of the RCS push, Google Fi does not yet support the new messaging protocol. It would have made too much sense if Google created the MVNO was one of the first to support the feature Google has been running on other OEMs and carriers for years, but unfortunately they have not. Well, late than never – Google has finally announced support for RCS Universal Profile on Fi.
As of January 14, 2019, all phones intended for Google Fi will be able to access RCS messages. Using the Messages app, users can enjoy iMessage-like text messages when communicating with other devices whose carriers also support RCS Universal Profile (also known as "chat"). Currently, it means in the US, Sprint, US Cellular and some T-Mobile phones, but the list of supported carriers continues to grow every day.
How to activate RCS on Google Fi
Currently, there is probably nothing you need to do if you are on a "Designed for Fi" phone like Google's Pixel lineup. Just make sure messages (past Android messages) are set as the default SMS app and then wait for a query in the app to enable chat features. It can be viewed at any time during the next week.
However, those who have used Hangouts as their SMS client must disable Hangouts integration before they can use RCS in the Messaging app. To do so, open Hangouts and go to the app's setup menu, select your Google Fi account, and disable the switch next to "Messages" (under the heading Project Fi calls and SMS ).
To test if the RCS is enabled, just kick up a conversation with someone via the Messages app, and if they are on a compatible phone and network, the text field at the bottom of the message thread says "chat message" instead of "text message" ̵1; it means that you will enjoy all the improvements of RCS Universal Profile in your messages with that person.
Other phones that have recently been made compatible with Fi may or may not work with RCS. For example, if you bring your own Android device and it runs 6.0 Marshmallow or higher, it should work with the new standard as long as you text with the Messages app. With these devices, you can simply download Android messages (v. 3.9 or later) and set it as the default messaging program. A call will appear and ask you to activate the RCS, and that is it. However, iPhone users must know that RCS does not work, regardless of carrier support.
What you get with RCS
RCS uses a data connection similar to how you would communicate via WhatsApp. Unlike traditional SMS, messages are sent via cellular data or Wi-Fi. Google has decided not to count this data usage against your cap, so you don't have to worry about running data due to RCS messages. While your total data usage in the Google Fi app will initially reflect your RCS data usage, after a maximum of 24 hours, the use of RCS will be deducted. Also, if an RCS message does not go through at any time, it will fall back to the SMS. This way, even if you're in a bad data coverage area, you can still send messages.
Today, Google announced that Android Auto and WearOS will support RCS messages so that the same enhancements can be enjoyed on any complementary device you use.
RCS provides many changes to common text messages. For example, you can now get read-in receipts when the recipient shows your message and sees an indicator when they start writing. You can transfer files much larger (up to 105 MB), create a group chat with up to 100 members, share your location to help someone find you and much more. RCS is the future of the text message, and it is a good day to hear another operator adding support. With Google Fi enhanced support for more phones and Bill Protection, the RCS is just another reason why you should make the switch.
What do you think about Google Fi adding support for RCS messages? Are you excited about RCS messages in general? Let us know in the comments below. And for more information on what RCS messages are and how it changes the message, check the link below.