Google Messages allows any Android phone to take advantage of RCS messaging, which has improved the SMS-replacement standard's push. This is part of why some consider it an Android alternative for iMessage, Apple's proprietary messaging platform for iDevices. Whether you think the same or not, it's still an imperfect competitor, and recently, users have found some annoying issues that have either kept their RCS Chat messages in eternal limbo or straight up kept them them from setting it up.
ReviewGeek's Cameron Summerson (an Android Police alumnus) earlier this month complained about an issue he was having with Google Messages where most of the RCS messages sent to him were undelivered, describing them as stuck in an "RCS hell." For context, a long time ago, "iMessage hell" was a real issue where iPhone users switching to Android would not get messages from iPhone-using friends because their phone number was still registered in Apple's servers as an active iMessage-enabled destination. Thus, those messages were being sent over iMessage to an undeliverable number, where they'd be caught in limbo for ages. The problem got so bad that Apple had to create a separate online form to de-register your number from iMessage if you didn't have your iPhone anymore.
For some, these RCS issues manifest in about the same way, except that it happens randomly, all on its own, without changing phones or device types. RCS/Chat messages just don't arrive. The reason why it's happening is not immediately clear, and we've seen a constant low level of related complaints, paired with brief bursts of more widespread reports.
In Summerson's case, the phone was stuck in this state for at least 4 days (when the issue seemingly fixed itself out of the blue), and the phone was stuck on "Status: Verifying" every time the "Chat features" section of the app was checked.
Another similar and possibly related issue has been intermittently tipped to us by many of our readers and is actually a hot topic on Google's support forums right now (it's currently marked as fixed there). In this particular case, users get stuck on either "Connecting" or "Trying to verify" instead of "Verifying." We're not sure whether or not those affected also suffered the "RCS hell" of delayed/undelivered messages, but we do know that trying to delete cache, updating, deleting app data, or trying the same stuff on the Carrier Services app doesn't do a thing to fix it, though those are some of the usual RCS troubleshooting go-tos.
In this case, we see waves of heightened reports among a constant background noise of those suffering more continuous trouble. These waves usually pick up and then resolve a few days later.
The "Status: Connecting" error in Google Messages. Thanks to Chau for the screenshot!
We reached out to Google for more clarification on this and the seemingly episodic nature of the more widespread reports for RCS issues, and a Google spokesperson told us that the company is aware of the issue and is actively working to minimize its occurrence. They also recommended that users affected should go to "Chat features" and tap on "Verify your number" to make sure your number is correctly verified.
Another potential fix includes de-registering your phone number from RCS. Much like Apple, Google also provides an online form to disable RCS/Chat messaging for your phone number. You'll need to go there, then scroll down to the "Without your previous phone" option. From there, just put in your phone number, enter the verification code Google sends to that number, and Google will de-register your phone number on their end. If any messages were stuck in "RCS hell" and SMS fallback wasn't working for whatever reason, you should start receiving messages shortly afterward, as Google won't continue holding those messages for RCS.
Later, if you want, you can try and re-enroll into RCS to see if the problem is fixed — it may work, or it may not.