It's been a couple of years since Messages (then known as Google Messenger) started rolling out RCS, the chat-like features that work on top of regular SMS. In the time since, RCS has spread to more operators and devices, but it's still not the universal solution Google wants it to be, and nor is it a foolproof one. To help users understand what's going on, especially when things don't work as intended, Messages now shows you the status of your RCS connection.
The feature was first discovered by Cody in his teardown of Messages 4.3. It wasn't live then but it appears to have gone live with v4.4 (which also brought Assistant recommendations). You'll first notice that Chat features (aka RCS) is no longer a sub-menu under Advanced, but has graduated to the top of the main settings interface. Also new is the Status item at the top of Chat features. Based on Cody's teardown, it should cover all possible scenarios from connected to setting up to disconnected, and explain what's wrong, such as a missing SIM card, your carrier or device not supporting the feature, etc...
The presence of a status won't speed up the rollout of RCS to your operator if they don't already have it, but it should make using it a little more transparent once it does. And for those of you who already have RCS, the status is showing up for users on Messages v4.4, which you can grab from the Play Store or APK Mirror.
- Nick Cipriani