How To Activate Android’s iMessage Alternative And Send Text Messages Using Data

iMessage and default messaging services are a huge deal in the United States where WhatsApp and similar alternatives are not as big a deal as the default messaging clients that come preinstalled on the phone. How big of a deal can it be? Well, it’s big enough for people to want to have their Android devices appear as iPhones when texting.

With that in mind, Google has been working on and actually rolling out a competitor to iMessage for Android devices but the rollout has been extremely slow.

I’m not sure if this will work for all Android phones but it did work on my Galaxy S8 Duos and now I can send messages using data (only if the other person receiving the message has also turned on RCS). I also have the ability to send voice notes, I can see someone’s typing status (if they are on RCS as well), read receipts and send pictures and videos using data and not the traditional MMS, making the messages app more like an instant messaging application e.g WhatsApp.


Here’s how I did it:

  1. Turn off WiFi – use mobile data
  2. Install Google Messages
  3. Join the beta (scroll down on the install page in Google Play and you’ll find the option)
  4. Leave the Google PlayStore and come back and update the Google Messages application
  5. Restart your phone
  6. Clear data for the following applications in the following applications – Carrier services (may not be installed – if not install from Google Play) and Messages and Google Messages
  7. Go to PlayStore and download Activity Launcher
  8. Open Activity Launcher and scroll down and click on Messages – scroll down and click on Set RCS Flags.
  9. Change ACS Url to
  10. Change OTP Pattern to the one available option
  11. Click Apply
  12. Go back to App settings > Google Messages > Force Stop
  13. Open Google Messages
  14. You’ll get a prompt to Upgrade to RCS. Click on it

Once you’ve activated the feature if you go into your Google Messages application > Settings > General > Chat Features, you’ll be able to access a number of RCS chat settings that you can tweak.

P.S: This article came about as a result of a tip from Simba Madara who commented on one of our articles suggesting we try this out. Thanks, Simba!

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20 thoughts on “How To Activate Android’s iMessage Alternative And Send Text Messages Using Data

  1. Nice tips, also on Xiaomi phones, there is MiMessage much similar to ios’ iMessage. Both users just need to activate the feature, and better you don’t need to install a third-party messaging application.

    1. Android Messages isn’t third party. It’s what’s supposed to be on all Android phones by default, but companies choose to replace it with their own. Not to mention that RCS and Android messages already started rolling out in the US, and is already completely out in other countries, you don’t even need to do any of this. Just make sure you have Android messages installed and turn on chat features.

      1. I have a pixel 4 XL in Verizon, I had to do this. Coming from a pixel 3 XL on Verizon which had this when it was first released. I am very disappointed in Google currently.

  2. I cannot seem to set the OTP Pattern on my Galaxy Note 8. There is no error, it just does not appear to save the setting. Any suggestions?

  3. google maps now has live-view techzim can you figureout where in zimbabwe the feature works im using the beta version of google maps

  4. Is there a reason why I don’t want to send text messages via Wi-Fi? Sometimes mobile data just isn’t as a reliable and sometimes mobile data costs more. Having an app that switches back and forth between the two same as more useful as well as logical. Maybe I’m missing something but aside from the ability to use RCS I just don’t get it. Currently my carrier’s own messaging program offering does both and gives me a lot of bells and whistles that Google just can’t match.

    1. Hi, you can use both WiFi and mobile data as soon as the setup is complete. Could you please share some of the benefits from your carriers messaging program – here in Zimbabwe we don’t have anything similar.

  5. On my Huawei mate 9, the “apply” button disappears off the bottom of the screen upon selecting OTP pattern. There seems to be no way to scroll down or access that portion of the screen. However it still worked even without explicitly setting that value.

  6. Before doing this it says under settings>general>chat features> unavailable. Carrier doesn’t support. Will doing this change it so I have the features in this article available, and will work after? I don’t want to mess up messages if it won’t work with my carrier

  7. Sad to say it’s going to be a hard sell to get the average phone user to go through all those steps to use the app. If the process remains so “complicated” adoption will be low.

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