Google Play Services 20.15.13 prepares to add a page to list RCS/Chat apps

Google Play Services 20.15.13 prepares to add a page to list RCS/Chat apps

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Messaging in the U.S. differs majorly from the rest of the world. While apps like WhatsApp and Telegram have become the staple communication platforms in many countries, Android users in the U.S. still pretty much rely on SMS for messaging, especially because their counterparts using iPhones are hooked to Apple’s iMessage. This has inspired Google to develop a parallel, leading to the company to help push RCS messaging. Rich Communication Services, which Google simply calls “Chat”, supports multimedia features and read receipts, unlike SMS. While RCS and Chat have been limited to a handful of first-party messaging applications, including Google’s Messages app, there are many users out there who probably don’t know it’s available.

Google will soon be adding a new page in Settings to show the list of all installed applications that support RCS and/or Chat messages. We discovered references to this upcoming feature in the latest Google Play Services beta by analyzing the resources in the latest APK package.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

The new strings we found in Google Play Services v20.15.13 indicate that the new Settings page in Google Play Services will show the list of RCS supported apps on your phone. The page will also guide users on how to set up and use RCS messaging in these apps. The update, however, does not add any new option to switch RCS on or off per app as that functionality may be limited to the individual app. Given you can only use one Messaging app to send and receive SMS at a time, RCS features will only be available via the default app for text messages.

The following strings found in the Google Play Services v20.15.13 suggest how the upcoming feature might work:

<string name="c11n_chat_features_activity_label">Chat features</string>
<string name="c11n_chat_features_learn_more">Learn more about Chat features</string>
<string name="c11n_chat_features_privacy">Privacy Policy</string>
<string name="c11n_chat_features_terms_of_service">Terms of Service</string>
<string name="c11n_chat_features_text">"Chat features lets you send upgraded, high-quality images and videos over Wi-Fi and mobile data using Rich Communication Services (RCS).&lt;br/>&lt;br/>When you turn on Chat features from Google, you agree to the %1$s. Google will occasionally verify your number with your carrier (SMS charges may apply). Google's %2$s describes how data is handled. %3$s."</string>
<string name="c11n_connected_apps">Connected apps</string>

We also found the following string that refers to a tutorial on how to enable RCS messaging in the Samsung Messages app:

<string name="c11n_samsung_steps">To turn Chat features on/off&lt;br/>1. Open %1$s&lt;br/> 2. Go to More options &lt;b>⋮&lt;/b> and tap &lt;b>Settings&lt;/b>&lt;br/> 3. Tap &lt;b>Chat Settings&lt;/b> and turn Rich Communication settings on/off</string>

RCS has been available for some time in Samsung’s Messages app, but for those who aren’t aware it’s there, this page will inform them how to enable it. The same goes for Google’s Messages app. The screenshot below shows the upcoming Settings page showcasing how to enable Chat in the Messages app on a Google Pixel device.

google play services chat features rcs

We will update you when the feature starts rolling out.

Messages
Messages
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.