Update, February 22, 2019 (04:00 PM ET): Unfortunately, it appears the exciting feature described below is not coming with Android Q anymore. According to a new code commit (via 9to5Google), the feature has been — and this is a direct quote from the commit itself — “punted from Android Q.” There’s very little ambiguity in that statement.
Without RCS-specific APIs within Android Q, third-party SMS apps like Textra, Pulse SMS, and others, will not be able to use RCS features. Instead, to gain RCS features in Android Q, you’ll need to use Messages or other apps supported by Android Q.
Of course, Android Q is still in its very early days, so this could change again before we see a release — but don’t get your hopes up.
Original Article, February 8, 2019 (05:40 PM ET): Much has been made about Rich Communication Services (RCS), but the reality hasn’t yet matched up to the hype. Thanks to several RCS-specific APIs for Android Q that Android Police found, that reality could finally change for the better.
Here’s the thing — as great as RCS is, carriers and manufacturers have done a great job of fumbling its usefulness. Google teamed up with several device makers to roll out RCS through its Messages app, while Samsung uses RCS for its stock messaging app. However, U.S. carriers have been incredibly slow with their RCS support and have very specific hoops that you must clear if you want to use RCS.
All of that’s to say that RCS is only available through a small subset of messaging apps for a small subset of devices on a small subset of networks.
As much of a mess as RCS is right now, Android Q could remedy that somewhat. According to the APIs that Android Police found on the AOSP Gerrit, Android Q could open up RCS to messaging apps. So long as your carrier supports RCS, you could message folks with the protocol on third-party apps like Pulse SMS and Textra.
This is great news for those that want to see faster RCS adoption. Let’s just hope that carriers get their acts together and properly realize the dream of an inter-operable messaging service that works out of the box.