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Google Messages will soon let Android users text 911 using RCS

1 month ago 61

Google today announced a partnership that will allow Android users to message 911 through RCS. The capability is set to start rolling out this winter.

Communicating with 911 over SMS is possible in “some locations” today, but it’s not widespread. In fact, it’s “only available for around 53% of U.S. emergency responder call centers.”

Using Google Messages, those on Android will be able to text 911 using Rich Communication Services. This will let you see read receipts and typing indicators from emergency responders, thus eliminating the “uncertainty of waiting to see if your messages went through.”

Compared to SMS, RCS will allow you to send pictures and videos. Google says high-resolution media could “aid a faster and more effective response from emergency service providers.”

The last benefit is the ability to “share your precise location and additional information automatically through Android Emergency Location Service.” This can include your “language settings and opt-in Medical Information, so emergency responders know exactly where to go and can get helpful details from you even if you’re unable to reply.”

Google Messages RCS 911

Google is partnering with emergency technology company RapidSOS on this launch. RCS support will “gradually roll out” to “emergency call centers across the U.S. starting this winter.” RapidSOS says that “Google’s RCS to 911 service will be made available at no cost to every 911 agency in the United States.”

More broadly, Google has a goal of making “RCS the standard for emergency services texting everywhere.” 

As part of our commitment to user safety, we’re actively working with partners across the industry to expand access to emergency services through RCS.

On a different note, look at the tweaked media gallery in that “UI is subject to change” mockup. Instead of a large camera card, you get a consistent grid for the live preview, Gallery/Folders, and seven other images. You get to see more of your camera roll before having to scroll.

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