Apple has surprised users by announcing that it will adopt the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging standard, bringing iMessage-style features to messaging between iPhone and Android users. This move comes after years of pressure from regulators and competitors like Google and Samsung.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said that the company believes RCS will offer better interoperability for cross-platform messages. The feature is set to launch via a software update “later next year” and will bring many iMessage-style features to cross-platform messaging between iPhone and Android devices, including read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality images and videos, and the ability to share locations within text threads.
It’s important to note that Apple’s implementation of RCS does not mean iMessage is going away. iMessage will continue to be the preferred messaging platform for iPhone users, with RCS supplanting SMS and MMS as an additional cross-platform option. Apple also emphasizes the security and privacy of iMessage, which is end-to-end encrypted, while RCS currently does not support encryption on the same level as iMessage.
This move by Apple comes after years of resistance to adopting RCS, with CEO Tim Cook previously stating that there wasn’t significant demand for RCS support. However, impending legislation in the European Union and pressure from competitors likely played a role in the decision to adopt RCS.
With Apple’s adoption of RCS, the limitations of SMS and MMS will no longer haunt most messaging conversations between iPhone and Android users, providing a more seamless messaging experience across devices. As of now, there’s no word on whether the green bubbles for non-iMessage messages will still be green.
This move is in line with Apple’s support for other open standards, as the company has previously worked on developing and adopting standards such as the Matter smart home standard, Passkeys for passwordless sign-in on iOS, and the Qi2 wireless charging standard.
Overall, Apple’s decision to adopt RCS aims to enhance the messaging experience for users, and it will be interesting to see how this move impacts cross-platform messaging in the future.