VoLTE is finally starting to roll out on devices, but who uses their phone as a phone anymore? Luckily, there's a next-gen standard for text messages too, and T-Mobile is the first carrier to support it. T-Mobile's CTO just announced support for "Advanced Messaging" on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard on T-Mobile, and it's starting its rollout now.

These are the features T-Mobile has built into its Advanced Messaging service.

  • Rich 1 on 1 and group messaging, including near real-time chat
  • See when others are typing, when your message is delivered and even read
  • Share high-res photos and videos up to 10 MB just as you would a regular text message
  • And T-Mobile Advanced Messaging is built to work across all devices, makers and operating systems—and wireless operators.

So Advanced Messaging will operate a lot more like Hangouts or WhatsApp. Since it's built on RCS, it will eventually be compatible with other devices and carriers (once those carriers add RCS messaging). The first T-Mobile phone with support for Advanced Messaging is the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime, which is launching today. Future software updates to the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6 will add Advanced Messaging. There are also "nearly a dozen" more devices slated to get Advanced Messaging support this year.

Like VoLTE, this probably won't be very useful until there are more devices with support. Presumably there will be some indication when you're texting someone with Advanced Messaging, otherwise it falls back to SMS. You will also need an LTE or WiFi connection to use Advanced Messaging. While it's not explicitly stated, I also imagine you'll have to use the system messaging app on your phone to send Advanced Messages for now. The RCS standard should theoretically allow more apps to add support in the future.