Finally bowing to pressure from Google, Samsung and regulators, Apple today announced that starting in 2024, the iPhone will support Rich Communication Services (RCS). According to 9to5Mac, this will happen via a software update that the company says it will release “later next year” and will allow messaging between the two platforms to include many iMessage features.
Make no mistake, this is a huge victory for Google since the latter had been putting pressure on Apple from 2022 to add RCS support. Samsung joined the battle earlier this year. Currently, when an Android user chats with an iPhone user or joins a group chat made up of iPhone owners, the chat switches from iMessage on iOS (and RCS on Android) to SMS/MMS, all the special iMessage features/ RCS are disabled and photos and videos are shared in low quality. This will change once Apple starts supporting RCS.
RCS already has many of the same features found in iMessage, such as read receipts, typing indicators, end-to-end encryption, high-quality photos and videos, and the ability to send longer messages . And RCS works over mobile data and Wi-Fi, unlike SMS/MMS. Apple’s support for RCS could put an end to teenage bullying of Android users, which occurs when joining a chat comprised of teenage iPhone users.
While Apple could continue to use green text bubbles for Android and keep the blue text bubbles for iOS users, RCS support should allow iOS and Android users to access the same features as iMessage. Ultimately, this could eliminate the teasing and bullying that Android-using teens have faced for years from iPhone-using teens.
Apple was reluctant to support RCS because it sees iMessage as a major selling point for iPhone buyers. But iMessage doesn’t disappear from iPhone at all; Once RCS support is implemented by Apple, RCS will be a separate messaging platform from iMessage that can be used when available. SMS/MMS will always be offered as a backup.
The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) almost forced Apple to support RCS earlier this year. However, Apple was granted a temporary reprieve when iMessage was deemed not large enough to be considered a “keeper,” and today’s announcement helps Apple get ahead of any forced acceptance of RCS.