Android Messages app gets a fancy new upgrade to rival Apple's iMessage

Android users will finally be able to enjoy chat features like read receipts and typing indicators like Apple's iMessage

RCS Messaging,

Your texting on Android devices is about to get a whole lot better, according to Google. The search giant is adding a major update to its Messages app to taken on Apple's iMessage.

In a blog post on Thursday, Google announced that it was rolling out support for RCS messages to the Android Messages app to users in the US. RCS, which stands for Rich Communication Services, will update the boring default text messaging app with an iMessage-like experience that iOS users have enjoyed for several years now.

What is RCS?

RCS support will essentially introduce a built-in sophisticated chat client to Android devices that will replace the outdated SMS and MMS protocols. The new feature will allow users to send messages, images and videos immediately using their Wi-Fi network or data connection as opposed to their mobile network, as is the case with SMS and MMS. In addition, you will also be able to see when the person you're texting is typing a message and get read receipts, which you can opt-out for in the app's settings.

The only drawback of RCS is that it isn't end-to-end encrypted, which is a privacy standard in messaging clients like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but that's the price Google is willing to pay for developing it as a replacement for SMS messaging, which never had encryption in the first place.

How to enable RCS feature?

In order to start using the new feature, you need to have the app installed on your device and set as the default SMS app. If the RCS feature is available to you, you will receive a notification that reads "Messages just got better" and the new chat features should become available once you agree to the terms and conditions.

Once enabled, you'll see the phrase "Chat message" appear in the compose field when messaging others who also have RCS enabled on their devices. Google is doing a slow rollout and only about 1% of Android phones will get the update on Thursday. Most people in the US will get the new features "by the end of the year."