It’s taken years, but Google today has announced that RCS messaging is now available globally — anyone with an Android phone using Google’s Messages app can take advantage of the feature. If you don’t recall, RCS stands for Rich Communications Services and is a major upgrade to the basic SMS features phones have had for years. RCS features include improved video and photo quality, seeing when chats are read, sending and receiving messages over WiFI, improved group chat capabilities and sending reactions to messages. Basically, many of the features that are supported in stand-alone messaging programs like Facebook’s Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp should be available to anyone using Google’s Messages app.
Beyond finishing its global rollout, Google announced another important feature coming to its RCS implementation: end-to-end encryption. It’s not fully available yet; Google said that encryption in one-on-one conversations using RCS will start rolling out to beta testers this month and continuing to reach more people throughout early next year. “Eligible” messages will be encrypted automatically, and both participants will need to use the Google Messages app with chat features turned on. While Google didn’t say when the feature would move out of beta, it looks like the Messages app has an open beta you can sign up for here — that should mean you’ll get it sooner than later.