RCS, shorthand for Rich Communication Services, has finally arrived on Google's mobile virtual network operator Fi, the search company just announced. It has also confirmed that it's going to improve data speeds for users big on roaming.

Rollout of RCS on Google Fi comes at opportune time: although SMS is slowly entering oblivion, RCS, the next big thing in messaging, is still being adopted at a snail's pace, with limited support from Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Google, on the other hand, is making the tech available on a broader spectrum of handsets than those carriers, including its excellent Pixel phones, the Moto G6, LG V35, LG G7, and the Android One Moto X. It also works on other Android phones, but only via the Google Messages app, a free download from the Play Store.

Rich Communication Services

For the unfamiliar, RCS is the next-generation replacement for SMS that boasts far more dynamic features than typical SMS including text-message phonebook polling, transmission of in-call multimedia, and even typing indicators. In short, RCS feels a lot more similar to most online chat platforms, with support for higher-resolution images and video, Wi-Fi texting, read receipts, and improved group chats.

The only thing missing on RCS that's widely available on popular messaging clients the likes of Signal and WhatsApp is end-to-end encryption, in which messages sent back and forth between users are protected from potential backdoor access. It's not clear if this can be added down the line.

Improved Data Speeds

Apart from RCS support, Google has also announced improved roaming speeds for Google Fi users. The company is moving to faster 4G LTE speeds in 33 of the countries Fi is available in. As before, roaming is free of charge on Fi, which makes it one of the best network options for people who frequently travel to faraway places, especially now with improved speeds.

Faster 4G LTE speeds will be rolling out "over the next few weeks," Google says, while RCS is available now. Beyond these features, more will come, the company confirms.

"We can't wait for you to try these new features, and we look forward to bringing you even more from Google Fi in the new year."

Any of you on Google Fi? Have you tried out the new RCS messaging support? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts to share!

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