Enhanced Emergency Texting Coming to Google Messages

Texting 911 is getting an upgrade with the introduction of RCS support in Google Messages. This new feature will be available starting this winter, allowing users to benefit from enhanced capabilities when contacting emergency services.

Currently, SMS texting to 911 is only available in a little over half of emergency dispatch centers in the US. However, in areas where RCS is supported, users will have access to new features such as location sharing and read receipts. The timing of this announcement, just days before Apple is expected to announce RCS support in iOS 18, is likely not a coincidence.

Google has partnered with RapidSOS, a company that can relay medical information to emergency responders for both iPhone and Android users. Once enabled by an emergency dispatch center, users texting 911 via Google Messages will see indicators that they are using RCS, along with read receipts and typing indicators from the dispatcher.

Over the past decade, the ability to text 911 has been gradually implemented. In areas where texting 911 is not supported, wireless carriers are required to provide a bounce-back message directing users to make a call instead. While this ensures that messages are not lost, having read receipts adds an extra layer of reassurance.

RCS will also support higher-quality image and video sharing with first responders, as well as the ability to send precise location information. Google is working with partners to expand RCS messaging for emergency services and is encouraging collaboration to ensure reliable emergency messaging for all users. This move may also be seen as a push towards Apple, which is anticipated to introduce RCS support at WWDC next week.