Over the past few years, Google and Samsung have been forcing Apple to adopt RCS (Rich Communication Services) for iPhones, and the Cupertino-based firm has been opposed to the idea. However, amidst the ongoing antitrust issues in the EU and the US, Apple has announced that it will support RCS on iPhones starting next year. Yes, it is real, and it is happening! iPhones will finally begin to play nice with Android smartphones by supporting the RCS messaging standard.
Apple will bring support for RCS to iPhones in late 2024
Apple confirmed to 9To5Mac that iPhones will start supporting the RCS messaging standard in 2024, but it didn't reveal an accurate timeline for the release. The feature will come with a software update later next year, and it may be iOS 18. This feature will enable modern messaging features for conversations between Android and iPhone users. Those features include read and sent receipts, typing indicators, and sending and receiving high-resolution images and videos. It also enables group chat, individual message replies, message reactions, and end-to-end encryption. Apple has also revealed that RCS support will allow people to share their location inside message threads.
iPhones will support the RCS Universal Profile standard published by the GSM Association, and Android has supported it for several years. Apple has cleared that RCS support will remain alongside iMessage, with SMS and MMS as a fallback. The company has also revealed that it is not opening iMessage to other platforms like Android. So, Nothing's implementation of iMessage support on its smartphones will continue to be highly unsafe. Moreover, RCS messages will continue to be displayed inside green-colored bubbles in Apple's default messaging app.
Unlike SMS, RCS works over mobile data and Wi-Fi. However, Apple reiterated that iMessage uses a more advanced form of end-to-end encryption than RCS, thanks to Advanced Data Protection. However, it will not use any proprietary form of encryption on top of RCS. Instead, Apple has revealed that it will work with GSMA members to improve the RCS standard itself. Now is an excellent time to remind you that Samsung supports RCS on all its modern phones through Samsung Messages and Google Messages apps.
Google welcomed Apple's move to announce support for RCS. In a statement, it said, “Everyone deserves to communicate with each other in ways that are modern and secure, no matter what phone they have. That's why we have worked closely with the mobile industry to accelerate the adoption of RCS, and we're happy to see Apple take their first step today by coming on board to embrace RCS. We welcome Apple's participation in our ongoing work with GSMA to evolve RCS and make messaging more equitable and secure, and look forward to working with them to implement this on iOS in a way that works well for everyone.”
Author's Note: Apple's move to support RCS on iPhones is enormous and will have significant repercussions on the worldwide instant messaging segment. The societal pressure to buy iPhones in some markets like the US will likely go down. So, whether a user has an Android phone or an iPhone, they can communicate with people on any other platform as easily as it is for iPhone users to communicate with other iPhone users.
It might even affect third-party instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp, as RCS supports most basic features that one expects from a modern messaging app, including read and delivered receipts, typing indicators, emojis, stickers, high-resolution images and videos, location sharing, message reactions, and end-to-end encryption.