RCS is officially huge. 1 billion monthly active users Big, in fact. Google announced the milestone today, and to celebrate, it’s rolling out 7 new features to the Messages app. These clearly “help you reflect your personality”. But on iOS, RCS doesn’t make bubbles blue.
RCS, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is a new standard that’s supposed to replace the old SMS and MMS, Google says, though those are still used as backups, not so much a “replacement” as an “improvement.” Anyway, the point is it’s like iMessage but for Android phones.
Google has been pushing it a lot — and we mean it. a lot – in recent years, and it seems that his efforts were not in vain. RCS has typing indicators, read receipts, continuous replies, high quality media sharing, improved group chats and better privacy.
Now let’s go to the new features. First, Photomoji. As the name suggests, this allows you to react to a photo using Google AI on the device. All these creations are stored in a special tab when you want to use them again. Also, your friends in group chats can use the Photomoji you sent them.
Next, Voice Mods. These are emoticons superimposed over a voicemail, visually, to express how you’re feeling at that moment. Voicemail bit rate and sample rate have also been increased for perceived quality improvement.
Screen effects enable full-screen active animations as you type special messages like “It’s snowing” or “I love you.” There are more than 15 of these, but they are hidden, so Google wants us to find them.
Next, custom bubbles – you can never do this on iMessage, that’s for sure. You can customize the bubble color and background for any of your conversations. You can choose a different color for each chat if you want – Facebook Messenger themes say hi.
Reactions “bring more life into your conversations,” says Google. It works on the ten most popular emojis, and when you respond with one of them, it will respond to the message you’re responding to.
They’re just animated emoji – visual effects for specific emoji, that only trigger when you send that particular emoticon – WhatsApp has something similar for example.
Finally, Google Messages now has profiles. You can personalize your profile name and picture to go with your phone number. This “resolves the problem of receiving messages if phone numbers are not saved in your contacts,” the company says, and can be especially useful in group chats, so you know who all the members are.
And now for the worst. These new features are first available in the beta version of Messages, and not even all at once. “Most” of these features, Google says, are available in the beta channel today. We’re not sure which, and the company hasn’t clarified, so who knows. Hopefully it won’t take them long to sneak into the stable channel.