Rich Communication Service support has been a long time coming, and recently we reported that Google had tired of waiting for carriers to do their part, and was rolling out its own support directly.
It’s unclear which party is responsible here in Australia – it must’ve been Telstra or Google – but the answer to that doesn’t really matter: RCS Messaging is now working on a much wider range of handsets on Telstra today, after showing a few hints that it was coming late last week (when handsets suddenly registered for RCS “Chat Features” in Google Messages, but didn’t actually work).
Well, today, that last piece of the puzzle is now in place – not only does Google Messages register for “Chat Features” in Australia, but those features also actually work:
As you can see above, a test message sent to a fellow Telstra customer shows “Delivered” in place of the usual “Sent” indication. When that person reads the message, it will then show “Read”. When they start replying, you’ll see the animated ellipsis (…) indicating they’re typing, and then the message will appear.
RCS is more than just some simple presence indicators though; RCS enables sharing of GIFs, longer videos, longer content and more. It doesn’t use the carrier’s network per se, as RCS uses an “over the top” communication protocol, meaning you can use it over WiFi or whatever other data connection your phone is on at the time.
Another handy feature is that voicemail messages will be delivered as rich messages, so you can play them back as audio files directly in your messages app, instead of having to dial 101 and listen:
This is the visual voicemail feature I’ve long wanted in Android land, and to say I’m happy with that is an understatement of the highest order. We’ve heard that some users have had this feature for quite a while, but many are saying they’ve only noticed it in the last couple of days.
Most simply, RCS makes SMS messaging work kind of like Apple’s iMessage (though it’s important to note it’s not compatible with iMessage, so you can’t start iMessaging your Apple mates just yet).
If you’re on Telstra and haven’t tried the feature out yet, it’s worth opening Google Messages (or installing it if you don’t use it) and seeing whether you can enable the service on your handset. We’ve heard from users that it’s working on Google’s Pixel range, Samsung handsets, Nokia and Moto phones as well as our office Huawei P30 Pro.
It’s not clear if the feature is enabled for other carriers yet – if you’re on Optus or Vodafone, please let us know if you’re able to access Chat Features in Google Messages too! We’ve heard some Optus users seem to have RCS enabled (but we’ve not been able to replicate that ourselves).