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(Pocket-lint) - Google has activated RCS messaging in the UK, meaning that sending messages on your Android can now become a lot more sophisticated.

RCS messaging has long been heralded as the replacement for SMS and MMS, bringing much more advanced features like Apple's iMessage, or like popular chat apps like WhatsApp.

There's been a deadlock for Android users, however. While Android has supported RCS for some time, it was left to the networks to enable the services. That never happened, meaning that Google was left to step in and sort everyone out.

RCS messaging uses data rather than SMS allowances, but using Android Messages it all runs through one app, without the need to have a separate chat app installed. This was something that was simple for Apple to do some time ago (although it uses its own format, not RCS), because everyone was using the same software on the same devices - and Apple handles the data transfer between these users. 

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RCS is slightly different, because it depends on your having an active SIM in your phone (unlike iMessage which is linked to your Apple ID) which is where the phone networks basically caused the system to stall.

That's all changed as of 28 June 2019 and we've seen RCS messaging appear on a Sony Xperia 1 on EE. It's a service you have to opt into, but you then get a range of advanced functions as long as you're talking to someone else with RCS enabled on their phone. It's worth noting that this doesn't replace SMS and MMS - if you aren't talking to someone with RCS enabled, then the message will send via those existing services. 

You can find out everything about RCS messaging in our feature - and if you're in the UK or France - check your Android phones to see if the feature is live for you. In Android Messages, head to settings > chat features and you'll be able to see if you're connected and control your options.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 28 June 2019.