T-Mobile has begun the introduction of the RCS Universal Profile – a new messaging standard designed to make traditional SMS appear more like chatting in a modern messaging app. This includes read receipts, tips and much more.
The Android Police discovered rollout is starting with Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and is scheduled to be released later this year on Android devices. There are a million qualifiers here to see how and when everyone will really use this, but this is still an important step in improving the basic texting experience on Android.
RCS Messaging has been supported by T-Mobile customers for three years now, but it is not until now that T-Mobile has adopted "Universal" RCS. Universal RCS, if all goes to plan, will enable RCS messages between supported phones on all major carriers and not just within the same carrier
T-Mobile says that every sold Android device supports RCS, in theory, many Current T-Mobile devices are getting updates to support them. And one could imagine that eventually all new Android phones will support it out of the box.
But as I said, many qualifiers. Right now, the only other major vehicle supporting Universal RCS is Sprint. So it's only T-Mobile and Sprint customers ̵
T-Mobile had said it would start Universal RCS in this neighborhood, and it's really sneaking in the last few days. It is not clear how fast the rollout will continue or how many additional phones the rollout will achieve.
"We plan to enable RCS Universal Profile 1.0 this year with a software update for other Android devices". Mobile spokesman said in an email to The Verge . "Customers with RCS Universal Profile 1.0 will see the new features in the native messaging app on their device."
The big question, though, is when Verizon and AT & T will activate Universal RCS. Both have agreed to support the standard, but no one has set a rollout schedule. And that means that even people who can use RCS will not get the benefits of chatting with about two-thirds of US cell phone subscribers.
Google has lingered behind RCS recently, and the company seems to believe that much broader support should be given in 2018 and 2019. "By the end of this year, we will be in a truly great state, and by the middle of next year we will be in a place where a large percentage of users [will have] experience this," Anil Sabharwal, leading the Google RCS push, said The Verge earlier this year.
We will have to see a lot more. But today's news shows that there is at least some movement under Google's big RCS push. There is still a long way to go.