RCS messaging is here—thanks, Google—but there’s still a chance that you can’t flip the switch on it because, again, Google. Yes, it’s another feature rollout, which means you’ll be staring at your phone for some unknown amount of time, hoping it reveals to you the setting you can use to turn on something that sounds really awesome on paper.
If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s the super-short version. Consider RCS messaging to be a super-improved version of SMS, the way you currently text your friends all day long. With expanded character limits (8,000), support for read receipts, end-to-end encryption, cross-device syncing, and web-based chat capabilities, it’s the messaging evolution Android has needed for some time.
While people have found clever workarounds to enable RCS messaging manually on their devices, the easier method is here—assuming Google has rolled out the feature to you. To check, you’ll first need to make sure you have Google’s Messages app installed on your device—standard on Pixels, but not guaranteed on other Androids (cough Samsung cough).
From there, open the app and tap on the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner, and then tap on Settings. Tap on Chat Features (if it exists), enter your phone number, and watch for your “Status” to move from “Setting up” to “Connected.” Boom, you’re now using RCS, and you’ll be able to partake in all of its features as long as the person you’re talking to on the other end also has RCS enabled on their device.