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What Is RCS? Google Gives Brands New Way To Text You

The automated texts you get from companies are about to look a whole lot nicer. Google has announced that it's finally launching Rich Communication Services (RCS) business messaging for the Android platform.

Credit: SnapTravel/1-800-Flowers/

(Image credit: SnapTravel/1-800-Flowers/

But what do you need to get these messages on your phone, and when will they be coming?

What is RCS messaging?

Well, let's start with what it's replacing. Presently, companies use short SMS messaging to send plain-text notes when communicating information such as your travel booking info, two-factor authentication codes and other content.

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RCS allow brands and businesses to improve the design of these notes by adding images, links and all kinds of nicely-formatted content. This means a preview of the flowers you've sent to your loved ones, links to contact customer service and pretty-looking coupon links.

RCS messages are sent using the Universal Profile 2.0 standard, which has seen support from all the major telecom operators including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Device-makers who have partnered on the standard include Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and Asus. Also, Google isn't the only operating system maker on board with the Universal Standard, as Microsoft is listed as a partnering company.

What app do you need for RCS?

Brands will send RCS messages via Android Messages, the pre-loaded default messaging app for Pixel, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, ZTE and Android One devices. Google announced that Blu, TCL/Alcatel/Blackberry and Essential will join the list of companies who make Android Messages the default messaging app.

When will RCS messages come to your phone?

In the blog post announcing the rollout, Google wrote about RCS as a service that's currently available, but still rolling out.

RCS in the U.S. is currently quite limited, though, as Sprint is the only telecom to sign on with the Google messaging service. That means users on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and other services won't see it until those companies get on board.

What companies are using RCS?

So far, RCS campaigns in the U.S. have come from the 1-800 Contacts and delivery services, the Subway sandwiches company and the travel organizations and SnapTravel.

At this weekend's Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona, RCS is supposedly getting a chance to shine, with Google's partners demonstrating the technology to attendees.