Today, Google is announcing that it’s rolling out RCS Chat on the Google Fi network. Google is also announcing that it’s improving data speeds for users who roam.
The RCS rollout follows limited support on Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Google is making RCS available on a broader array of phones than Verizon and T-Mobile; it should work on Pixel phones, the Moto G6, LG V35, LG G7, and Android One Moto X. Other networks have launched RCS Chat on just a few phones, including the Pixel 3 on Verizon and some Samsung phones on T-Mobile.
It’s been a bit weird to see Google Fi lagging behind other carriers when it comes to supporting RCS, especially since Google has been such a booster for the SMS replacement standard. Although Fi isn’t exactly a widely used network, perhaps it will nudge other carriers to accelerate their RCS adoption in 2019.
RCS is the next-generation replacement for SMS, and most carriers are defaulting to calling it “Chat.” It offers many of the features users expect from a texting client: higher-resolution images and video, Wi-Fi texting, typing indicators, read-receipts, and better group chats.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption to protect users’ privacy. In fact, soon, Google won’t offer consumers any such app on Android: Allo is winding down, and Hangouts is increasingly designed just for enterprise use.
Alongside the RCS Chat announcement, Google is also announcing that it’s improving data speeds for users who roam. Two years ago, it partnered with Three to offer LTE speeds for travelers, and now it’s saying that it’s moving to faster 4G LTE speeds in 33 of the countries it covers. As before, Fi doesn’t charge roaming fees for that data usage, making it one of (if not the) best carrier option for people who travel internationally.
The faster LTE speeds will be rolling out “over the next few weeks,” while RCS should be available “starting today.”