Android Version of ‘iMessage’ Comes to Messages App: How it Works

The message standard has been available for many years, but WhatsApp has probably delayed its use case till now.

Published
Tech News
2 min read
Message RCS app (left) and iMessage for iOS users (right)
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Android users have relied on WhatsApp to text, send photos and even share location on mobile devices. Apple device users have been using their in-house iMessage app, which has all of those features and offers encryption as well.

But now, Google is finally looking to overhaul the existing SMS ecosystem, with the RCS (rich communication services) standard, available on the regular Messages app. The feature is currently in beta phase and can be downloaded via the Google Play Store, once you register interest to try out the RCS version on the mobile.

The messaging option is still not prevalent enough to become a universal standard, something that WhatsApp has become. But if SMS needs to be upgraded, RCS is probably the best way out. If you’re keen on trying the RCS version of the Message app, here’s what you need to do.

The Messages app needs to be updated, but you also need to download the Activity Launcher app, which looks like this:

Android Version of ‘iMessage’ Comes to Messages App: How it Works
(Photo: Google Play Store screen grab)

Once you’ve done that, open the Launcher app and scroll down to the Messages app and click on it. After that click on the ‘Set RCS Flags’ to activate the feature on the app for your device.

Android Version of ‘iMessage’ Comes to Messages App: How it Works
(Photo: Activity Launcher screen grab)

Now, click and scroll to select the http://rcs-acs-prod-us-sandbox-google.com/ link in the ACS URL tab and press “apply” to enable the setting.

Now that you have enabled RCS, head over to the Chat Features section in the Settings menu, and you’ll notice that the Messages beta app is now connected via the operator.

Android Version of ‘iMessage’ Comes to Messages App: How it Works
(Photo: Messages app screen grab)

As you can see here, the new Messages app now lets you send photos, chat in groups and do a lot of other stuff, just like how WhatsApp and iMessage work. Having said that, RCS via the Messages app still doesn’t support end-to-end encryption. It can’t be used across multiple devices and you won’t find many people using the platform to chat right now.

RCS has been around for a while, but telecom operators have been unable to connect users across the globe, probably because of different Android versions, as well as the large-scale dependence on WhatsApp.

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