After years of resistance, Apple now agrees to support the RCS messaging standard. This will greatly improve communications between iOS and Android users, likely when sending photos, videos, or location data. The adoption of RCS may also ease complaints of “green bubbles” in group chats, though RCS still lacks many of Apple’s iMessage-exclusive features.
When asked about RCS support in 2022, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded, “I would love to convert you to an iPhone.” The company has always been adamant in its rejection of RCS, so today’s heel-turn comes as a bit of a shock. Some people will credit Google for Apple’s change of heart—Google has routinely accused Apple of weaponizing text messages, and it recently asked the EU to force the RCS standard onto Apple. The EU said “no” to Google’s proposal, but Apple may have been spooked by the threat of regulatory action.
Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.
In a short message to the press, Apple explained that it will bring the RCS Universal Profile to iPhone “later next year.” It also admitted that RCS will offer greater interoperability than the outdated SMS and MMS standards. But Apple is keen to mention that iMessage is more secure than RCS. It’s true—iMessage supports end-to-end encryption, and RCS doesn’t. According to TechRadar, Apple wants to help the GSM Association add end-to-end encryption to RCS. But it will not develop a proprietary encryption solution for RCS messaging.
As an iPhone user, you may not even notice the addition of RCS. You’ll (probably) finally be able to send high-quality photos and videos to Android users, but that might be the only major change. Group chats between iOS and Android users will still lack a ton of Apple’s best features, including message editing and iMessage games. People will still make a fuss about “green bubbles,” though Apple may select a different color (or a different shade of green) for RCS chats.
We’re finally getting what we wanted. But RCS still has a lot of room for improvement. Let’s hope that Apple cooperates with the GSM Association and contributes to the development of the RCS standard.