Google Messenger Update Brings RCS & Other Improvements

If you're a fan of and are using Google's Messenger application for your SMS needs, there's an update that's currently going out right now which introduces a sizeable set of new features, changes and improvements, not the least of which is a brand-new icon that stares you right in the face the next time you o to open the app after updating. Yes, the app has a new icon, but that's not all as the update also introduces some visual changes to the user interface. Upon opening the app and entering into an SMS thread, users should notice that the chat boxes have a slightly more rounded.

Those visual touches are well and good, but the most functional part of this update is something that Google doesn't directly mention by name, and that's the support for RCS. If you're unfamiliar with RCS, it's essentially an enhanced version of text messaging that includes quite a few improvements, like being able to visibly see when someone else is typing back in a response to your message. This in itself is nothing new in messaging as a whole as you can find it in quite a few chat apps, but it wasn't until carriers started implementing RCS (or advanced messaging) that this sort of feature was available with simple text messages. Other RCS improvements include things like being able to send messages over Wi-Fi  or the data network among other changes. As noted by Android Police, users should see an alert notification in the app that enhanced messaging features are available along with a prompt asking users if they'd like to enable them and give them a try.

RCS also introduces the ability for other users to see when you've read their messages, another thing that's been popular and common in many chat apps like Hangouts, Groupme and others. Alongside the enhanced messaging features, the Messenger app also now includes read counts that show on the icon for Messenger on the home screen, although this will only work for some Android phones. While enhanced messaging does certainly do as the name suggests, it's important that users know that this means Messenger will need to stay connected in the background for things to work. Luckily Google is notifying users of this too, so you'll be given the opportunity to allow it or not, keeping in mind that if you don't, enhanced messaging features will not work. A couple of other improvements that have been made include one tap access to contacts and the ability to share photos more quickly. There is no time frame on the rollout and Google doesn't seem to have announced it, so users will simply have to wait patiently for it to show up.

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Justin Diaz

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Justin has written for Android Headlines since 2012 and currently adopts a Games Editor role with a specific focus on mobile gaming and game-streaming services. Prior to the move to Android Headlines Justin spent almost eight years working directly within the wireless industry. Contact him at [email protected]