Sprint on Friday said it is teaming up with Google to launch Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging.

Starting Friday, Sprint said customers will have access to a set of new RCS features, including group chat, high-resolution photo sharing, read receipts, and more, all on top of the standard Android messaging experience.

The carrier said customers' standard SMS experience will be upgrade via the Messenger app for Android – the app will automatically upgrade for customers with select LG and Nexus phones, while other customers will have to download the updated messenger app from the Google Play store. Sprint said all phones sold next year will come with RCS baked in as a default setting on the messaging app.

The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google, Sprint said.

Google's RCS head Amir Sarhangi in a Friday blog post said RCS launches with additional partners would follow in the coming months.

The launch follows a February announcement in which operators including America Movil, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Sprint and Vodafone signed on to support a common profile for interoperable messaging on Android using GSMA's RCS specifications and provided by Google. Sprint was the only of the four major U.S. wireless carriers to back the GSMA/Google RCS initiative.

In July of last year, however, T-Mobile became the first U.S. carrier to launch RCS messaging under the name “Advanced Messaging.”