Google might give Android RCS features to other apps

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Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

TL;DR


  • Evidence gleaned from an APK teardown suggests Google might open an Android RCS API to other developers.
  • This would mean you could access RCS features through other apps besides Google’s own Messages.
  • It is too early to tell what this would look like or how open it would be, but the possibility is there.

After years of waiting for US carriers to get their collective act together, Google finally stepped up and brought Rich Communication Services (RCS) to the masses in 2020. RCS is basically enhanced text messaging, which allows you to get read receipts, send large files, share location information, and more.

Even with Google taking the reins, though, Android RCS support isn’t perfect. In order for it to work, you and the person(s) you’re chatting with need to be using Google’s Messages app. While Messages is a decent texting app, it lags way behind a lot of competitors when it comes to useful features. For example, Messages only recently got the ability to schedule out texts, something other apps have had for years.

See also: The best texting apps and SMS apps for Android


Over at XDA-Developers, though, the team found that this problem could have an incoming solution. By tearing down the most recent Messages APK, XDA found evidence that there could be an Android RCS API on the way. If true, this would theoretically allow other texting apps to “hook in” to Messages and gain RCS support. In theory, this could make it possible for you to see RCS support on your Android phone even if you (or the other person) aren’t using Messages.

Obviously, for this to work the developer of the texting app you use would need to add support for that RCS API. This wouldn’t be difficult, though, so it’s reasonable to assume most of the popular apps out there would support this functionality.

This is all really good news, but don’t get your hopes up quite yet. We saw evidence in 2019 that Google was developing an Android RCS API, but only Messages has had access to it. Today’s news is a good sign, but you’ll need to wait a while before we see this for real — if we see it at all.

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