Update (Nov 17, 1:10 am ET): Apple confirms the color of the text bubbles for RCS chats.
What you need to know
- Apple will enable RCS support on the iPhone in 2024.
- The company says it will enable better interoperability between iOS and Android.
- Google has been publicly pestering Apple about the lack of RCS support for some time, arguing that SMS is less secure.
- Regulators have also been looking into iMessage and whether or not Apple should open it.
It's official: RCS is coming to the iPhone. Apple announced the surprising move in a statement to 9to5Mac on Thursday, saying that bringing RCS will "offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS."
Apple did not say specifically when RCS support will drop on iOS, only that it will come later "next year," so it could likely be part of the next major update in 2024, perhaps on iOS 18. However, when it does drop, it will use the same RCS Universal Profile as Android.
Apple also says it will live alongside iMessage in Apple's Messages app, which will remain separate for iPhone users. That means while green bubbles may still be a thing, the experience will ultimately get much better.
Bringing RCS to the iPhone is a major deal because it promises to fix many of the problems users have when messaging between Android phones and iPhones. The problem is a predominantly North American one, but in its current state, group chats or sending media between iOS and Android is a bit of a mess. Photos and videos sent through MMS are low quality, and having that one Android friend in a group chat can effectively downgrade the experience.
With RCS, many of the problems should hopefully be a thing of the past. The standard has been pushed by Google for years and has effectively become a default on Android devices via the Google Messages app. It enables features like typing indicators, read receipts, high-quality media, and more. According to 9to5, Apple will also allow users to send their location in a thread.
And like Android, Apple plans to use SMS/MMS as a fallback when necessary.
Enabling RCS should also make chats between iOS and Android more secure, at least more secure than SMS. The company argues that RCS is still not as secure as iMessage, but Apple is also working with the GSMA to improve the RCS standard, which means we could see better encryption down the line.
Google hasn't been shy about trying to convince Apple to adopt RCS, going as far as to publicly shame the company for refusing with campaigns like #GetTheMessage. On the one hand, the move could be seen as a way for consumers to better understand why messaging between the platforms was not particularly great. On the other hand, it eventually started to seem a little desperate on Google's part.
More recently, it was reported that Google went to regulators to try to get things moving. The E.U. has already been looking into iMessage and whether or not it should be opened up. And while that is still not happening with this move, it's unclear how this will affect things going forward.
Still, this announcement is likely a very exciting one for Google now that it can stop spending money on aggressive marketing campaigns.
"Everyone deserves to communicate with each other in ways that are modern and secure, no matter what phone they have," a Google spokesperson told Android Central. "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."
As expected, Apple says that the color of RCS chats will remain green. While it may seem like an odd choice to keep the color the same between SMS and RCS, Apple somewhat explains the decision in a statement to 9to5Mac, saying that blue bubbles are meant to identify iMessage chats.
This isn't too surprising, since Apple says iMessage and RCS will coexist on iPhones, but doesn't really explain why RCS chats just don't get another color.
Meanwhile, on Google Messages, RCS chats are distinguished with a dark blue color, while SMS chats use light blue.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.
'we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association.' Now, if Google would support the RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association, we'd have something.Reply
Well, if they don't they are going to look like a bunch of stupid forking hypocrites.SvenJ said:'we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association.' Now, if Google would support the RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association, we'd have something.
Called this about 3 days ago in another thread. I'm such a competent analyst..Reply
FWIW Google has supported RCS UP since 2019. it also works with the GSMA to shape the standard.Reply
Google's Jibe messaging solution adds proprietary nonsense atop it, but the core UP is fully supported.
Google jibe is their universal on its message app , then you have Google messages that are on Samsung carrier version devices which are carrier RCS so that's going to change soon where everyone will be on jibe and get rid of carriers RCS platform and use Google universal version. This is in the US I'm referring to.SvenJ said:'we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association.' Now, if Google would support the RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association, we'd have something.
It will be nice not to hear google whining about this every chance they get. I am more interested in how apps like whatsapp, Telegram, signal etc, are going to integrate with each other.Reply
So how might this all end up a few years down the road? Everyone's short messages being handled by a federated arrangement of distributed RCS Servers operated by Google and Apple, if carrier RCS Servers are not going to be part of the picture?Reply
Presumably, we aren't going to be left with everything being handled by only just Google servers?
Don't hold your breath.2low_tech said:It will be nice not to hear google whining about this every chance they get. I am more interested in how apps like whatsapp, Telegram, signal etc, are going to integrate with each other.
It would be nice for everyone, regardless of what brand of device they use, to be able to communicate and send and receive photos and files without any degradation in quality.Reply
Only Yanks care about something as trivial as bubble colours in text apps.Reply
Apple only did this so they could show how easy it is to drop Android. Remember, Apple hasn't innovated anything in years, now they're begging for people to spend money in the "walled garden" of Apple.