Android users can finally enjoy cross-carrier RCS starting next year.

What you need to know

Verizon is collaborating with Google to expand RCS messaging to more Android users in the U.S.
Google’s Android Messages will be preloaded on all Verizon Android phones starting next year.
T-Mobile and AT&T have already switched to Android Messages for RCS.

Verizon has joined hands with Google to give Rich Communications Service (RCS) a big push in the U.S. Starting next year, all Android phones on Verizon’s network — including the best cheap Android phones, will use Google’s Android Messages app for RCS. The other two major U.S. carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile, have already committed to switching to Android Messages. T-Mobile became the first U.S. carrier to make Messages its default texting app in March this year. AT&T, on the other hand, confirmed plans of making the switch last month.

Announcing the collaboration with Google, Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne said:

Our customers depend on us to provide a reliable, advanced and simple messaging platform to stay in touch with the people that matter the most in their lives. By working with Google, Verizon will offer our Android users a robust messaging experience that allows them to engage with loved ones, brands and businesses in new and innovative ways.

RCS offers a much more interactive messaging experience compared to SMS. It lets users send and receive high-res photos and videos, chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, get real-time conversation notifications, use animated emojis, and more.

Additionally, RCS will enable Android users on Verizon’s network to connect with businesses to purchase products, ask questions, and even make reservations. As confirmed by Google a few weeks back, it has also started rolling out to end-to-end encryption for RCS conversations between Messages users. According to the GSMA, the RCS standard currently has over 444 million monthly active users in 60 countries around the world.

In addition to switching to Android Messages, Verizon has announced that customers using its Message+ app will be able to access full RCS capabilities by the end of the year.

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