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Decoding RCS Messaging: What it is and how it operates?

For quite a while now, Apple's absence of RCS support has been a subject of jest from various companies, including Samsung and Google. Just recently, Samsung took another playful jab at Apple. This might leave many users wondering: what exactly is RCS support? Let's delve into it.

Edited By: Vishal Upadhyay New Delhi Published on: October 12, 2023 17:52 IST
rcs, rich communication services, rcs support, sms, what is rcs, how rcs works, tech news
Image Source : SAMSUNG Representational Image

In a recent move, Samsung has thrown its weight behind Google's #GetTheMessage campaign, urging Apple to adopt RCS (Rich Communication Services) technology. This advanced protocol is poised to replace SMS, offering a host of features similar to those found in modern messaging apps, including Apple's iMessage.

RCS technology introduces a range of powerful capabilities, such as end-to-end encryption, read receipts, and the ability to share high-quality photos and videos. While iMessage boasts similar functions, it is confined to the Apple ecosystem. This has raised concerns, particularly in countries like the United States where iPhones dominate, as Android users can be easily identified as recipients with green message bubbles in group chats.

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What exactly are RCS chats?

RCS chats, or Rich Communication Services chats, provide an elevated messaging experience. They offer:

  1. Real-time typing indicators, show when someone is typing a message.
  2. Read receipts, indicating when a message has been read or received. This also notifies your contact when you've read their message.
  3. The ability to send messages over both mobile data and Wi-Fi.
  4. Support for sharing files and high-resolution photos.

When you engage in RCS chats, your messages travel using the RCS protocol, using Wi-Fi and mobile data. It's important to note that RCS chats are activated only when all participants in a conversation have RCS. This service is provided either by Google or your mobile carrier.

Which devices are compatible with RCS chats?

RCS chats are available exclusively on Android devices.

How do RCS chats operate?

With Google's RCS chats, messages are sent and received through Google's dedicated RCS backend over the internet. Messages can be exchanged with users on other RCS service providers. In cases where your recipient's RCS service is provided by a different company, your messages are first routed through Google's RCS backend and then directed to your recipient's RCS backend.

However, the delivery of SMS and MMS messages, which are always sent through your carrier, remains unchanged.

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To ensure your messages reach their destination seamlessly, Google uses information like your phone number, device identifiers, and SIM card number. This data may be retained for approximately one month to maintain your connection to RCS, particularly in instances where you temporarily lose internet connectivity.

Upon enabling RCS chats, and each time you send a message, Google performs checks on your contacts to ascertain if they too can use RCS chats. These checks may involve Google's RCS backend and other service providers to reach your contacts effectively.

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