Android Messages app logoSource: Google

Rather than waiting any longer for carriers to get things in order, Google has now announced they have begun their rollout of RCS (Rich Communication Services) to Android users making use of the Messages app in the U.S starting today with it being more broadly available by the end of the year.

To make your conversations more seamless, we've worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). When you and your friends message each other with these chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Plus, you'll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven't seen the latest messages.

Chat features are already available for some of you in Messages, and today we're starting to broadly roll them out in the U.S. If you already have Messages, you'll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don't have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the U.S. by the end of year.

For BlackBerry users familiar with BBM, WhatsApp, or many of the other common messaging apps available, the feature set offered by RCS will certainly feel similar. You can think of it as an extended version of SMS built within the Android Messages app.

If you want to try RCS out, you'll have to load up the Messages app and look for the "Do more with Messages," notifcation. If you have that, you can tap on Get Started and then Next. Once you give permission for Messages to stay connected in the background and tap Next, you'll be all set to go.

What is RCS, and why is it important to Android?