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Google updates its Messenger app with RCS support, new round icon & other improvements

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There’s no denying the fact that Google’s messaging stack is an unnecessarily huge mess. Messenger, the app required to fulfill your SMS needs is also a part of these offerings and today Google is updating the same with Rich Communication Support(RCS). This app update not only brings with a handful of new unexpected features, and improvements but also a new circular deep-blue colored icon — to go with their own Pixel’s theme.

For the past year, Google has been going places and sharing its initiative of making RCS a commonplace for all using Android smartphones. If you’re unaware, RCS is an attempt to jazz up the plain old messaging client with enhanced features, such as detailed contact info, emoticons, location share, multimedia and file sharing using your data connection or Wi-Fi.

The Mountain View tech behemoth first planned to introduce RCS capabilities via its super-smart and handy new messaging client Allo but Messenger seems to have emerged as the winner here. It is the first Google app to receive support for sending and receiving rich media via a texting(SMS) app. Though there is a lack of features and functionalities, one can compare the same to Apple’s renowned messaging client ‘iMessage.’

So, what are the prominent changes that one should expect from this Messenger update? As mentioned above, you now have a new deep blue colored icon with the message symbol in the center. Falling in line, the UI has also gotten a facelift to incorporate this new color theme into the core of the application. Also, the message bubble now appears more rounded and one can visibly see when the other person is typing a message(similar to three dots on iMessage).

In addition, RCS support for Messenger also introduces the ability to see when others have read your message. This is the one functionality that has gained popularity and is now available in almost any messaging client. You’ll now be able to notice an improved chat window with a ‘+’ icon on the bottom left, which when tapped takes you to various multimedia options available in the app. You can use the same to quickly share an image, or select one directly from the baked-in gallery option. You can also spice up conversations with audio messages, stickers and location sharing services.

Google is currently slowly flipping the switch on the introduction of RCS services to more and more users. There’s, however, a catch to using these rich communication services and Google is keeping in mind to intimate you about the same while setting up the ‘enhanced features.’ To receive RCS messages, the app will need to stay connected in the background and thus, requires the battery optimization options to be switched off. But, worry not, Google is giving you the option to choose whether you want the same to work as intended or not.

Additionally, in India, there is only one carrier that supports Rich Communication on its network. And if you’ve guessed the wildly popular carrier service provider Jio, then you’re absolutely right. No other carrier in the country currently supports RCS, except the one that’s spreading like wildfire.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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