But now Google is taking over: later this month, Android users in the UK and France will be able to opt in to RCS Chat services provided directly by Google instead of waiting for their carrier to support it.

That seems like yet another minor status check-in on the service meant to replace SMS, but in fact it’s a huge shift in strategy: as Google rolls this offering out to more countries, it should eventually mean that RCS will become universally available for all Android users.

It’s not quite the Google equivalent of an iMessage service for Android users, but it’s close.

We fundamentally believe that communication, especially messaging, is highly personal and users have a right to privacy for their communications.

But it’s happening, finally, and there are a lot of details to go through if you want to fully understand how it will work and what it means.

Google’s Android Messages app refers to RCS as “Chat,” which is a more consumer-friendly name for the service.

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