What is RCS Messaging? Everything You Need to Know

  • Last Updated: 03 Apr 24
  • 13 min read
What is RCS Messaging-Everything You Need to Know

Did you know that SMS has a character limit? 🤔 Well, you may not have realized it because you haven’t sent a long message yet. What about sending photos? I bet you’ve done that (and still do). 

Previously, SMS did not allow sending photos or attaching files. However, the development of RCS changed that. Now, people worldwide use these features.

But exactly, what is RCS messaging (or RCS chat)? 

Today, this blog will help you learn that. Let’s begin.

🔑 KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • RCS is a new messaging protocol that replaces SMS/MMS with mobile data or Wi-Fi instead of mobile networks.
  • Key features of RCS include unlimited message size, the sharing of high-quality files like photos/videos, and features like read receipts, import indicators, and group chat.
  • Apple has announced that they will integrate RCS at the end of 2024.
  • Android users can use RCS by downloading and activating the Google Messages app.

What is RCS Message?

Rich Communication Services (RCS) is a new communication protocol for sending and receiving multimedia and text messages on mobile phones. It is a messaging protocol that works by using Wi-Fi or Mobile data to send and receive data, and it is expected to replace SMS in the future.

Basically, it is a form of advanced messaging.

What is RCS Messaging

Instead of using SMS and MMS messages as you currently do, with RCS, you can use your phone’s data connection or WiFi network to send messages. This is different from SMS and MMS, which rely on the cellular network.

So, with RCS, messages are sent over data networks rather than cellular networks like SMS and MMS.

Features of RCS

RCS messaging exceeds the boundaries of traditional SMS and MMS, offering a wide range of features, such as iMessage and other social media applications like Facebook Messenger.

Here are some features available to general users:

Limitless Messaging

With regular SMS messages, there is a 160-character limit on how much text you can send, which is pretty low. However, with no character limit whatsoever, RCS eliminates this problem.

High-Quality File Sharing

The MMS system limits the size of files you can send. Nowadays, the big file sizes your camera phone sends are compressed a lot so that they can be sent. What RCS does is, it allows people to send high-quality images, videos, and other forms of multimedia.

Integration of Messenger-like features

RCS offers same features found in other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. 

Some examples of features offered include watching as other users are typing in real time, getting instant read receipts for sent messages, creating group chats, sending video messages, and audio as well as file forwarding between users. 

In other words, RCS integrates features that are common to popular messaging services.

Yes, many of these features will seem familiar to many people. In fact, about 96% of people are aware of these features, as this statistic is about the number of smartphone users worldwide who use different messaging systems.

iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Telegram, and WeChat are some of the alternative texting apps that people use to chat instead of normal text messages.

All of these alternative messaging apps work on the same principle of transmitting messages and content over the user’s standard network/data connection instead of via SMS/MMS. Because they leverage data in this way, most offer the same features listed above that RCS also integrates with.

Benefits of RCS Messaging

Benefits of RCS
  • Enhanced Messaging Capabilities: The idea behind RCS is to make communication more efficient and effective. Add-ons like high-quality multimedia newsletters and bookmarks help keep conversations lively and interesting. This activity can help communicate clearly.
  • Increased Engagement For Business: RCS communications can provide businesses with direct contact with wealthy (and respected) customers. Interactive messages with images and buttons can capture customers’ attention and help them take action, such as making a purchase or scheduling an appointment.
  • High-Quality Sharing: With RCS, people are no longer bound to file size limits when sending photos and videos. It allows for approximately 100MB of file size to be sent.
  • Future Update Potential: RCS is considered the “new” SMS. If this is true, then receiving RCS messages now validates your communications strategy, helping you stay updated with new communications capabilities.
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How do I turn On RCS messaging on my phone?

At the moment, RCS can only be used by Android users, so if you wanna turn on RCS, you can simply:

  1. Open the Play Store and download the latest version of Google messages.
  2. Then, open the Google Messages app and tap on your Profile on the top right.
  3. Click on Messages settings.
  4. Click on Chat features (RCS chats).

You’ll see the message “Your carrier doesn’t support instant messages,” which means the service isn’t unavailable. If you’re connected to that service, you’ll see options to turn it on, as well as some feature options.

After activating RCS, you can use it the same way you did with SMS. If the other party you sent a message to supports RCS, your message will be sent using RCS. If not, it will only be sent via SMS.

If you wanna turn off RCS, then:

  1. Open Google messages.
  2. Tap on your Profile, located on the top right.
  3. Click the Messages settings.
  4. Click on (or RCS chats ).
  5. Then, you can simply turn off the RCS feature.

History of Text Message

It was 31 years 4 months ago, December 3rd, 1992, when British engineer Neil Papworth sent the very first text message, “Merry Christmas,” to a colleague.

Matti Makkonen first conceived the idea of Text messaging on cellular networks in 1984. He pitched the idea while eating a pizza in Copenhagen. 

However, it wasn’t until 1992 arrived that the first text message was sent. In the subsequent year, Nokia started supporting user-to-user text messaging.

By 1994, Networks had begun offering person-to-person messaging, but only on the same network.

At that time, repeatedly tapping SMS (or the numeric dial pad) was the only option. Then, in 1997, Nokia made texting much easier by developing the qwerty keyboard. Fast forward to 2002, and multimedia messaging service (MMS) technology emerged, allowing people to send photos and videos.

There’s no looking back now. We now send more than 16 million text messages every minute.

However, texting technology is still evolving. Rich communication service is the next big trend in messaging and will change the way consumers and businesses interact.

Thus, the question arises – 👇

Will RCS substitute SMS?

Even though RCS offers many more features than SMS, it is unlikely that it will totally overtake SMS.

This is because RCS still relies on a mobile data connection or Wi-Fi to send and receive messages. SMS will still be used in the future, and it can and should become a substitute for RCS in the sense that SMS could be used as a backup. 

Will RCS substitute SMS

When mobile data or Wi-Fi is unavailable, people will still rely on SMS for messaging.

Most importantly, RCS is likely never to be available on feature phones. Even today, there is a big market for feature phones, with the market expected to generate $10.6bn in revenue in 2024

Many people still prefer the old days of flip phones and simple SMS messaging.

What does RCS Chat mean?

In the early days of RCS adoption, Google called it “Chat,” a brand name used for RCS implementations. However, because Google’s version has become the main version that most people are familiar with, the term “Chat” has now been dropped. 

Nowadays, RCS often refers specifically to Google’s version rather than the popular RCS standard. Although Google’s version is compatible with the standard, they have added features that are not part of the open standard, such as end-to-end encryption. 

Google is able to include these additional features because its RCS uses the Jibe platform. Like iMessage, Jibe allows operators to quickly adopt RCS on their networks, except that Google has made Jibe an open platform accessible to operators.

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Who supports RCS?

RCS is provided as a service by mobile operators and requires their support. As RCS became better known, some service providers referred to it by terms such as Enhanced Messaging Service, SMS Plus, and Joyn, which essentially means RCS. 

Currently, there are about 55 operators worldwide that support RCS, including major networks in North America. However, some carriers have deployed proprietary versions of RCS that are only compatible with their own messaging apps.

For example, Verizon initially partnered with Samsung to improve messaging in Samsung Messages before Samsung adopted Google’s more open RCS solution. 

There is still some fragmentation, but most operators use the universal RCS standard. Compared to proprietary versions, the main limitation is the lack of end-to-end encryption. 

Carriers like Bell Mobility plan to stop supporting RCS in Samsung Messages and recommend users switch to Google Messages if they want to use RCS.

Does the iPhone support RCS?

Apple recently announced that it would integrate RCS by the end of 2024, according to a report by 9to5Mac. 

Apple says that while it will support RCS, these messages will continue to be displayed using the same green bubble interface as SMS/MMS chats on iPhone. 

However, Apple may choose to use a slightly modified green color scheme to help users distinguish between regular SMS messages and RCS messages sent to the iPhone.

It’s no surprise that Apple only uses the regular RCS standard, which means there has been no end-to-end encryption (E2EE) since Google added RCS.

Apple will likely integrate end-to-end encryption for RCS once the GSMA (GSM technology standards body) accepts it as a standard. 

Currently, RCS messages exchanged between Android and iPhone users are not encrypted because Apple has not yet implemented this security feature for interoperability between the two platforms.

Although this is still good news for iPhone users, nothing else changes the messaging in the Apple ecosystem as much as Android phones do. 

Prior to Google’s launch, the company’s iMessage service had advantages not included in the RCS Common Standard, including E2EE and the ability to edit and send messages through its Click app Plus and iMessage. 

In addition, RCS is a mobile communication method, while iMessage is available for Mac and iPad.

Improve your communication with the KrispCall Messaging feature

The Future of RCS looks Promising

While Android phones now have widespread access to the service, it’s not growing as quickly as some expected, and it seems unlikely to replace SMS (or iMessage) anytime soon. However, once Apple releases support, this may change as Apple users start using it.

Apple Insider points out that the problem with RCS adoption is that it’s unclear which devices are actually supported, perhaps because there are simply too many Android devices.

But the main reason is probably confusion. The problem with this adoption is that Apple has apparently not yet rolled out support for this device, as they already have a similar solution that works very well in iMessage.

The widespread adoption of RCS will most likely depend on Apple, and it recently announced that it would do so. Once RCS is integrated into the iPhone, its adoption will increase. 

In contrast, RCS is nearly becoming as omnipresent as SMS in the sense that you can use it to communicate with anyone who has a mobile phone, simply providing their phone number.

RCS Messaging Made Easy with KrispCall

In terms of business growth and branding, RCS helps increase brand visibility and awareness and aids your marketing campaign. With rich-media features that can be integrated into an SMS campaign, it can help get more impressions. 

KrispCall is ideal for businesses that want reliable, cost-effective messaging. It is secure and reliable, and it can send high-quality photos and videos. It offers carrier independence and full support for RCS features. Quick responses and the sharing of large files will delight your customers.

Furthermore, you will get to enjoy features such as Bulk SMS, Unified Communication, CRM Integration, Custom Greetings, and much more.👉 Start sending secure messages to your customers and colleagues in minutes. Sign up for KrispCall and start messaging today.

Final Thoughts

In terms of communication, text messaging may be the greatest advancement since the telephone. Today, Americans send more than 2 trillion texts a year.

From SMS and iMessage to Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The instant gratification convenience of texting a quick message or picture is simply irresistible.

These days, people use text to communicate just about everything, including subjects such as love and relationships. 

Texting has given us a whole new language of abbreviations, from FOMO to LOL to OMG to BRB. Without texts, we might not have invented the beloved Emoji. 

Lots of businesses have also adopted Texting for quicker customer service, for example, using a dedicated service platform like KrispCall, which is one of the best cloud telephony providers out in the market. 

In many ways, Texting has made communication easier, quicker, and more efficient.

FAQs

Is RCS Messaging safe to use?

Yes, because although RCS messages between Android and iPhone are not end-to-end encrypted, Google’s implementation provides security in the form of Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption. 

TLS ensures that if someone tries to intercept a message between the user and Google’s servers, they will only see the unreadable encrypted text and not the actual content of the message.

Can RCS work without an internet connection?

No, because without an Internet connection, RCS will revert to traditional SMS messaging, which does not support advanced RCS features. RCS requires the Internet to provide a real-time typing indicator, which displays when the other party is typing a message.

Is RCS Message better than SMS?

RCS is definitely more advanced and has more features than SMS. It enables smoother communication and a better user experience. RCS also provides iMessage-like messaging features for Apple and Android users, such as read receipts and typing indicators.

Arun Chaudhary

Arun is SEO Analyst at KrispCall. He has written in extensively in the field of cloud telephony and call center solutions.

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