In the Android world, you’re either using SMS or RCS for text messaging. You may have noticed some weirdness when texting people from your Samsung Galaxy (or another Android device). Certain features aren’t always available. Why is that?
SMS vs. RCS
When you send a text message from an Android device, it’s either SMS or RCS. SMS (Short Messaging Service) is the standard that has been around for many years. RCS (Rich Communication Service) is the new kid on the block.
RCS supports modern features such as “reacting” to messages with emoji, read receipts, typing indicators, and higher quality photo and video sharing. It’s a much better standard than SMS, but it’s certainly not without problems.
If you’re familiar with the iMessage situation on the iPhone, RCS on Android devices is a similar story. RCS only works if everyone in the text conversation has it. If that’s not the case, it will always fall back to SMS, and you won’t be able to use the features mentioned above.
A growing number of Android devices and carriers support RCS, including many Samsung Galaxy devices. Let’s say you and a friend both have Samsung phones on the same carrier. You’ll likely be able to take advantage of RCS. However, your mom may be on a carrier that doesn’t support RCS, so you’ll be texting her over SMS.
This whole situation is essentially Android’s version of the iMessage problem. You can “react” to messages from fellow RCS users, but it’s not possible with SMS users (including the iPhone). Just like it’s not possible for iPhone users to “react” to your messages from a Samsung Android phone.
It goes beyond just the ability to react to text messages, too. You also don’t get to see the typing indicators, read receipts, or enjoy high-quality photos and videos. RCS is much more like an instant messenger experience, whereas SMS is the slower, almost email-like communication standard.
Sadly, this is just another example of standards creating messy situations. iMessage can create bad experiences for both iPhone and Android users, and RCS does the same thing among Android users.
The worst thing is there’s not much you can do about it. Until all devices support RCS, you’ll notice some texting conversations have cool features, while others don’t. If the discrepancy bothers you, it’s possible to opt out of RCS.
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