Google celebrates 1 billion RCS users with emoji-filled messaging features Posted By: Editor In Chief December 1, 2023 November marks a significant month for RCS, the mobile messaging protocol promoted by Google, and to conclude, the company has revealed a noteworthy milestone and introduced some festive features. Google reports that over 1 billion monthly active users are utilizing RCS in Google Messages, a remarkable achievement given the limited support just a few years ago. This is not entirely surprising since Google Messages has been the default messaging service on Android phones for several years. Turning to the new messaging features, a couple of them may sound familiar to iOS users. One feature links to your Google account, creating a Contact Poster-like profile with your name and photo. Another addition is Photomoji, allowing users to cut people out of photos and use these images to react to messages, similar to iOS 17’s functionality. Google Messages also enables users to attach an emoji as a “mood” when sending a voice message, providing a quick way to convey the message’s tone. Emoji shared in group chats or used as reactions may include animations. Additionally, Google Messages now allows users to customize the color of chat bubbles for individual conversations. In a discussion with Sanaz Ahari, Android messaging VP and GM, the focus was on the new features and the overall status of RCS, inevitably touching on Apple. Ahari emphasizes the excitement around RCS on the iPhone, highlighting the challenges in group chats between Android and iOS. While Apple’s commitment to supporting the RCS universal profile 2.0 promises improved image and video sharing across platforms, Ahari acknowledges the absence of end-to-end encryption in the current 2.0 spec. Google is actively collaborating with the GSMA, with Apple as a member, to enhance the spec by adding features like end-to-end encryption and other elements not currently included. Features such as threaded replies, read receipts, and reactions, absent for iPhone users in the existing standard, are part of Google’s efforts to bring modern messaging features and end-to-end encryption cross-platform. While this goal is a work in progress, the new messaging features are rolling out to RCS users on Android phones, along with smart home integrations for Wear OS, allowing control of Google Home status, lighting groups, and routines directly from the watch. The rollout starts today, with the new messaging features initially available in open beta.