Google has recently pushed to replace the decades-old messaging technology we are stuck with. SMS was never intended to handle the high quality multimedia content we consume with our smartphones today, so comes RCS, which is a universal platform that aims to change our messaging game forever.
It’s not an easy feat by any means, but Google has slowly cut back on creating a truly universal chat platform to bring everyone together rather than isolate them. The bigger picture here is to let everyone around the world, not just the United States, communicate with each other using current generation chat features – no matter what platform or operator they use for their phone service.
As Google continues to work to get more wireless carriers and phone makers on board with this worldwide phenomenon, they took a big step towards making RCS a reality. For US wireless subscribers, you can bypass the carriers and enable RCS on all Android messaging devices to enjoy all the cool chat features like what you get from Facebook Messenger and Apple̵7;s iMessage.
Step 1: Install Android Messages
To get all the RCS goodies on your phone, you want Google’s official messaging app, commonly known as Android Messaging. Other apps (like Samsung Messages) support RCS, but to ensure maximum compatibility, we recommend that you install the Google Messages app.
Android messaging is pre-installed on many phones, but if yours is not one of these, you simply need to install the app and then set it as your default messaging app. It’s as simple as following the link below from your phone by pressing “Install”, then “Open” and then “Yes” when prompted to set Messages as your default text tap.
Step 2: Enable RCS
Now that you’ve made sure your wireless carrier supports RCS and you have the Android Messaging app on your phone, it’s time for good. Go ahead and open the Android Messaging app, click on the three-point menu at the top right, and then follow the location below to access the RCS settings for the app.
Settings -> Advanced -> Chat features
When you click on “Chat features”, a screen will appear explaining that the Messages app must stay in touch in the background for the chat features to work. Click “Next” and it will send a code in the app and then start activating the functions on your phone within a few seconds. When done, RCS will now be active on your phone from this point. It should also send you back to the “Advanced” page in the app settings.
In some cases, you may have to wait a little longer for it to come through when RCS chat features are enabled. If it takes longer than expected, you will see a new screen that says “Sorry to wait.” Just click “Got It” and wait until you get the message saying it is enabled. Once you have received the message, RCS will be active on your phone from this point.
Step 3: Enable additional RCS features
If you need to, go to the “Advanced” section of the settings and return to the “Chat Features” section as before. Instead of being greeted with a screen to activate the chat features on your phone, you now see a new list of chat options that you can change.
They are all on by default, but feel free to disable any or all of them to what works best for your personal chat needs. When new RCS features are added to the messaging app, this is where you will find them in the future for you to adjust and view at any time.
Step 4: Disable ad blocker for carrier apps (optional)
If you meet all the requirements and performed the above steps, but you still do not get RCS features, it’s probably your ad blocker’s fault. There are some apps (mostly operator apps) that need full internet access for RCS to work, and ad blockers can prevent them from working.
You have two options here: either disable your ad blocker completely or select all mobile apps. For example, if you use Google Fi and use AdGuard, you will need to go to “Apps Management” in the AdGuard menu and then disable ad blocking for Google Fi, Carrier Services, Carrier Settings and Carrier Setup apps.
The specific apps will vary depending on your operator and phone. But as a rule of thumb, whitelist (read: disable ad blocking for) all apps that have your carrier’s name, except for all apps with the word “Carrier” in their name. Restart the phone and then try using RCS features again.
This article was produced under Gadget Hack’s special coverage of text, instant messaging, calls and audio / video chat with your smartphone. Check out the entire chat series.
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