Chat features by Google FAQ

Note: Chat features are only available on Android devices.

What are chat features?

Chat features provide an upgraded, rich messaging experience. Chat features:

  • Show you when someone is typing
  • Offer read receipts (show when someone has read or received your message, as well as showing your contact when you read their message)
  • Send messages over mobile data and Wi-Fi
  • Lets you share files and high-resolution photos

When using chat features, your messages are sent using the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol over Wi-Fi and mobile data. Chat features will be turned on only when all the participants in a conversation have chat features. Either your RCS service provider (e.g. mobile operator) or Jibe Mobile from Google can provide chat features. This article describes chat features by Google.

     SMS/MMS message                     RCS message 

How do I turn on chat features?

Chat features will be turned on when all the participants in a conversation have chat features.

  • If you don’t have the Messages app, download it from the Play Store.
  • If chat features are offered by Google for your operator and device, the Messages app will prompt you to agree to the Jibe Terms of Service. You might be asked to enter your phone number as part of the chat features setup.
  • Chat features can be manually turned on in Menu Menu and then Settings  and then Chat features.

Which regions are supported?

Chat features in the Messages app may not be available in all countries or regions. We're working on bringing chat features broadly to more regions and other messaging apps (e.g. Samsung Messages).

Important: T-Mobile users with Advanced Messaging may be unable to chat or create a group chat with users outside of the T-Mobile network. For more information, please contact T-Mobile about upgrading to Universal Profile 1.0.

I don’t have the Messages app, can I still get chat features?

Yes, if chat is available from your country/operator. Download the Messages app on your Android device if your default messaging app doesn't offer chat features.

How do I know whether I’m talking to someone using chat features?

If your conversation’s compose bar says 'Chat message', your messages are sent using chat features. You can check your chat features' availability and status by going to Menu Menu and then Settings Settings and then Chat features.

Chat messages that you have sent are darker blue than SMS/MMS messages.

What happens if I don’t have data or the recipient isn’t online?

Messages can still be sent as SMS or MMS.

You can check and set your default option when chat features aren’t available:

  1. Open the Messages app Android Messages.
  2. At the top right, tap Menu Menu and then Settings and then Chat features and then Resend messages.
  3. Choose your default option:
    • Always resend as SMS/MMS
    • Resend as SMS/MMS when not roaming
    • Ask before resending
    • Never resend as SMS/MMS

What is the group chat experience when I include people who don’t have chat features?

If all the participants don’t have chat features turned on, you still may be able to create SMS/MMS groups.

Are my conversations kept secure?

Your conversations will be kept secure. Learn about how Chat features keep your messages secure.

Can I use chat features with Apple’s iMessage?

While you get many of the same benefits as iMessage, they are different messaging services. A conversation between someone using Google’s chat features and Apple iMessage will be sent through SMS/MMS.

Do chat features cost money?

When using chat features, your messages are sent over Wi-Fi and mobile data. As long you're connected to a free Wi-Fi network, there should be no cost for sending and receiving messages. If your messages are sent using mobile data, the cost is based on your mobile data plan.

Google may occasionally verify your phone number via SMS to offer chat features (SMS charges may apply).

Why do I get a battery optimisation prompt?

The Messages app requires a constant connection to send and receive messages in real time. To enable chat features, on some devices you may be prompted to exclude the Messages app from battery optimisation. Click YES when you see 'Ignore battery optimisations?' during setup to enable chat features. This will not noticeably impact battery life.

To exclude Messages from battery optimisation at any time:

  1. On your Android device, open your Settings.
  2. Tap Apps and notifications and then Special app access and then Battery optimisation and then Messages and then Don't optimise.

Will my messages be sent if chat features aren’t available?

If chat features are unavailable, your messages can be sent via SMS or MMS. You can check and set your default fallback option when chat features aren’t available. See here.

Please see the troubleshooting section if you are unable to turn on chat features or if you have trouble using chat features.

Troubleshooting

What if chat features are unavailable for my device?

You can check your chat features availability and status by going to Menu Menu and then Settings and then Chat features.

Check the following:

  1. Update your Messages app and your Operator services from Play Store.
  2. Make sure that your Messages app is set as your default SMS app.
  3. If your device has dual SIM slots and both SIMs are inserted, make sure that your Call SIM is configured as your Data SIM.
    1. On your Android device, open your Settings.
    2. Tap Network and Internet.
    3. Make sure your Call SIM is configured as Data.

What if my chat features' status shows that my operator does not support or I’m ineligible to receive chat features?

We are working towards bringing chat features support to more countries/regions and operators.

My chat features' status says 'Setting up', how do I get chat features?

When we are in the process of verifying your phone number, your chat features' status will say 'Setting up'. If the 'Setting up' status remains for more than a day, it means that your Messages app can’t verify your phone number.

To verify your phone number:

  1. Go to Menu Menu and then Settings and then Chat features. Tap RETRY and confirm your phone number when requested.
  2. Google will send an SMS to confirm your phone number.
  3. Make sure that you can receive SMS messages.

I have other issues or feedback. How do I report it?

To submit feedback:

  • From within your Messages app, go to Menu Menu and then Help and feedback and then Send feedback.

Check here for more troubleshooting steps. You can also submit questions to our community forum.

Will features like typing indicators and read receipts work when the recipient does not have chat features?

No, but standard text messaging via SMS/MMS will still work.  

I don't currently use Messages, what happens if I switch my default app to use Messages and start using Chat features?

You can make Messages your default app as described here. You won’t lose any existing SMS/MMS messages if you change your default app to Messages and you’ll have access to Messages’ benefits such as Messages for web, Smart Replies and chat features (where supported). 

If your previous messaging app supports proprietary features or non-interoperable forms of messaging (not SMS, MMS or interoperable chat features), you will not have access to those after you switch.

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