Trick allows RCS messaging on virtually any Android phone

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor

Google is trying to speed up RCS' rollout on Android, but you might have a way to enable it sooner than that. Reddit users have posted a trick that lets you enable the richer texting on any compatible Android phone, regardless of carrier. The process involves pointing a key Android Messages flag toward a Google sandbox address, setting up Messages, resetting data and repeating part of the process until you can tap an item inside another Messages flag. If all goes well, you'll have data-only chat abilities, full-quality photo sharing and typing notifications.

There are some clear caveats. You'll need a current Android Messages beta (5.2 as of this writing), an app that can see Android activities (such as Activity Launcher) and WiFi turned off. Also, if you turn off RCS later, you might miss messages from anyone who still has it enabled. And that's assuming the feature stays on. It's possible that Google can shut off access to this solution with little notice.

Despite those limitations, people have had success using this method on a variety of devices, all four major US carriers and at least some international networks. It's technically feasible to make RCS widely available, then. With that said, enabling universal RCS access may not be just a matter of flipping a virtual switch. Google's official approach involves users' clients pinging each other to see if the next-gen messaging is available. It may not want roll out the ability beyond France and the UK until it knows it can easily and reliably push the feature to everyone.