A new server-side update is now rolling out to Google Messages in as many as seven new regions, reportedly bringing RCS chat with it. The update appears to be landing primarily in Europe. Specifically, that's in Italy, Portugal, and Poland. But it has also appeared in Singapore, Argentina, Turkey, and Pakistan.
The current state of the rollout, reported by users in the various regions, isn't fully known. So it will likely land in far more regions as well. Additionally, it appears as though the company is rolling the update completely independently of carriers.
That's the same tactic the search giant used for its US rollout. So it should arrive with effectively every user in at least those regions fairly quickly.
Users in the regions who are seeing the update arrive will be informed of the new feature by an in-app bottom-positioned banner. Conversely, the features associated with RCS can be accessed in the Settings menu in the app. Users simply need to tap the three-dot menu icon on the apps home page. Then, they'll need to tap "Settings" followed by "Chat features."
What is RCS and what does this mean for end-users?
The update to enable RCS in Google's Messages app arguably couldn't arrive at a better time. Not only did the company recently add support for Facebook-like reactions. Specifically, Google designed those to allow users to add an emoji-based reaction to messages they've received.
The search giant has also seen a steep uptick in the number of devices that support RCS more completely.
For clarity, RCS is a chat-like service found in Messages and elsewhere. It delivers features such as a more consistent group chat service. But it also brings group customization and management features, read receipts, and typing indicators. That's atop a number of other advantages over standard SMS.
In fact, unlike SMS, RCS messages can be sent over another Wi-Fi when mobile data service isn't readily available. And file sizes are supported, with regard to auto-downloads, up to 105MB.
Google Messages recently joined a select list of apps to garner over 1-billion installs. With consideration for the face that Messages typically has to be downloaded manually, that's a significant number. RCS and associated updates are almost certainly key reasons for that.
This should arrive very quickly wherever Google rolls it out
The full extent of the rollout is presently unknown. That's because Google hasn't made much by way of an announcement here. Instead, it's simply started turning the feature on. So it could appear in a much wider group of countries when everything's said and done.
The app update is a server update though, as noted above. That means it should roll out in days at most, as opposed to launching over the course of weeks. But it also means that users won't need to navigate to the Play Store to get the features. Instead, the RCS update should just arrive for Google Messages on its own, as long as a data connection or Wi-Fi network is available.