Google has along been working on rolling out Rich Communication Services (RCS) to Android smartphones for a few years now, and over time, it's gotten more aggressive with its rollout. Today, the company has shared an update on its implementation of RCS, announcing that the service is now available worldwide through the company's own Messages app.
RCS messaging brings with it an array of "chat features" you don't usually get from SMS, such as read receipts, typing indicators, higher-quality media sharing, and more. Apple has offered something like this for quite some time with iMessage, but Android has lacked a widely-adopted competitor, which is probably why Google is pushing its RCS implementation harder. Broader availability naturally means more users can benefit from those improvements, and one less reason to consider using an iPhone over an Android device.
There's still a caveat, though, as Google warns that "in some cases", it may depend on your device or carrier to enable RCS. That's a problem Google has been facing for some time, which is why it decided to roll out the capability in some countries without waiting for carriers to enable it themselves starting last year. It's not clear exactly which devices or carriers may prevent RCS from working right now, but if you want to try setting it up, you can follow these steps on your phone.
Google also announced that it's building up security for RCS messaging on Android by enabling end-to-end encryption, a capability that was rumored to be in the works earlier in the year. Beta testers of the Messages app by Google will start seeing end-to-end encryption this month, with the rollout continuing into 2021. One-on-one conversations will be the first to support it, and just like other RCS features, both sides of the conversation need to be using the Messages app with chat features enabled.