Poll: Should Apple adopt RCS or bring iMessage to Android?

Google Messages And Imessage Icons
Google Messages And Imessage Icons (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Once again, Apple is being called out for keeping Android users at arm's length with iMessage. The company has been knowingly stubborn about not allowing iMessage on Google's platform, a tale that's as old as time. However, the problem has evolved to one where Google is not asking to bring iMessage to Android but instead wants to bring Android to iMessage with RCS support.

While it seems unlikely that Apple will do such a thing any time soon, we want to know which approach you would prefer Apple take.

The reason why Apple doesn't want to bring iMessage to Android has been apparent, even before it was revealed by recent court filings; iMessage is a powerful lock-in tool, and it can't risk losing that by bringing the app to Android. However, it's a bit less clear why Apple wouldn't support RCS given its benefits over the aging SMS.

The argument could be made that Google's message around messaging has been a mess. We once wrote that RCS wouldn't really take off unless Apple supported it, and to an extent, that's true. However, major U.S. carriers have supported Google's endeavor by making Google Messages the default on the best Android phones, making Apple the main holdout.

While we would like to imaging a world where iMessage came to Android, perhaps we wouldn't have to with Apple supporting RCS. As for what that would look like is unclear — would they still show up green? Would features translate between the apps better than they do now? Google has already been working on making iMessage reactions display properly on Android, so the reverse could be true.

While it would be cool to have iMessage on Android, it could end up being some half-assed effort à la FaceTime for Android. However, Google executive Hiroshi Lockheimer makes a good case why RCS on iMessage could be a better idea.

Let us know in the comments what you think should happen.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

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.

66 Comments
  • I'd prefer having iMessage in order to have one more option for a complete messaging experience (text, video, audio). Yes I know there are plenty of cross platform options but if iOS users are less likely to change from iMessage, then I think Android users will be willing to adopt a new messaging platform that works better with every device.
  • Pretty sure RCS messaging is end to end encryption. But only for 1:1 chats. Group chat would be nice. That would then leave only chats with iphone users not encrypted. That would be ironic. Imessanger seems to purposely make their users think that the other platform can't do certain things. Example, link preview. My buddy on an iPhone thought that you couldn't preview a link in message without iMessenger because every time I sent him a link it wouldn't let him preview it. I had to send him a screenshot of my phone to show him that good old SMS messaging let you preview just fine.
  • In many parts of the world iMessage doesn't have a stranglehold on the messaging market, so this issue largely affects the US it seems. Outside the US, many have been on WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, Viber, LINE, Signal and etc. where they're already multiplatform. While RCS isn't ideal, it is a direct replacement of SMS. Apple wants to lock users in with iMessage to keep iPhone sales, so bringing RCS to iMessage wouldn't run counter to their desire to lock iPhone users in. Outside the US, I'm not sure how compelling it would be for users if Apple launched iMessage on Android considering many iPhone users in these markets likely use a multiplatform messaging app alongside iMessage already and Android users are likely comfortable there already. Here in Canada, people often expect you to have at least WhatsApp. Sure iMessage is widely used here but it's not an expectation like it is in the States it seems.
  • We also shouldn't forget; today's empires, tomorrow's ashes. There was a time when BBM was the indispensable proprietary messaging app. There were two Canadian references in that. One obvious one and one that very few people if any will get lol.
  • BlackBerry was never on the same level as Apple.
  • Indeed not. Do you have a point?
  • BlackBerry didn't have the distinction of being the Top Smartphone world-wide at one point in time? Weird flex Apple-dude.
  • Blackberry certainly was
  • I'm an android user, but recognize this comment is so wrong. Smartphones are not apple's only bread and butter. Apple is an order of magnitude above RIM. Hell, peak blackberry market cap was about 80bb, and here we have Apple nearing 3 trillion. They are not in the same league. Imessages is not going to ruin Apple.
  • Nice Propagandhi reference!
  • "While RCS isn't ideal, it is a direct replacement of SMS." Yes and no. Yes it is not ideal. While RCS does support encryption from user to server, it does not support it user to user, one to one or group. So, in that sense, not much better than SMS. And No, it is not a direct replacement for SMS. If it were, carriers would not have to adopt and support it. They do, and not all have. So neither is it a direct replacement, it is also not ubiquitous enough to be a 'universally' implemented standard.
  • If the big three own SMS, can’t they also just kill it and make RCS the industry standard. Apple support SMS cause is the industry standard, if is gone, they would have to adopt RCS. If not, iPhone and Android devices will not be able to text each other.
  • What big three are you talking about? AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile? That's not the whole world of telecom. Apple, Google MS? That's not anything in the world of telecom services.
  • This is getting to be glaringly socially awkward and cringeworthy. Somebody needs to do something, somewhere, but I would prefer Apple to support RCS.
  • I don't really care, and they'll never do either. But I voted RCS because I wouldn't install iMessage anyway.
  • iMessage, just like all Apple products is overrated.
  • They should do both! Go ahead and offer their first-class messaging experience to Android users. But there's no reason to degrade picture quality, break group chats, support read receipts, etc when standards make it possible for those things to be platform agnostic. If Apple wants to win customers because iMessage can do things that the current texting standard can't support, I think that's great. If they refuse to support new standards because they think it creates unnecessarily bad user experiences (indirectly, for their own customers), it's kind of gross and user-hostile not to do this.
  • Things like imessage, icloud, and facetime lock users to them and they know it. I worked at a carrier store and there were many people who really liked the new Samsung phone or the new pixel or what have you, but no icloud or messaging or FaceTime, and their friends were too stubborn to use literally anything else to video chat, so another iPhone it is. Also very common is the young child of adult with them trying to switch them from a platform they've been using for the past 10 years. At least in that situation it's not my responsibility to teach
  • I don't care either way. I use SMS since it works on anything. I'd advise any company not to do anything that relies on Google when it comes to messaging, though. History shows Google isn't good, or even mediocre, at messaging. Of those two options rcs on apple devices makes more sense. Apple can even keep the RCS messages green so weak minded people will still be pressured into buying apple.
  • RCS does not rely on google as an fyi. Google has an implementation that can circumvent carriers because some carriers opted to not implement it, but it is a standard from the GSM assocation. Google ends up associated with it because if their support on android and making it stock in the messages app, but rcs doesn't need to rely on google period.
  • As it is this shows how much Apple sucks (and I love pointing this out to my iPhone using friends). I have group texts with them and they always complain how the fact that I have an Android makes is so they can't see their group text with me on their Macs. I just laugh and say... "Well, I can see them all on my Chromebook no problem. It is crazy how my phone choice makes your experience worse... you should ditch Apple so that doesn't happen anymore".
  • Maybe you should all use Skype, then you could see it on your Android and Chromebook and they could see it on their iPhone and MacBook. There are cross platform options out there.
  • If I could vote for both, I would. Like, pick one Apple! Either would be a step forward.
  • And along those lines, when is Google going to let other messaging apps on Android be able to implement RCS? Seems superior txting apps like Textra, Pulse etc have been calling on this for years, so it's a bit cheeky for Google to complain about Apple.
  • Hahahahahahahaha! As if Apple will care what a bunch of us Android users have to say!
  • Writing as an Android user from the EU. (The good, the bad and the ugly.)
    Even though the iMessage is not as popular as WhatsApp or others, Apple shall keep iMessage to itself. Otherwise, it will repeat BB (BlackBerry) story. As soon as people understood that there is no need for BB phones to use BBM, Blackberry was history. Apple will never make that mistake. And no polls will affect that.
    Shall it adapt RCS? If RCS was working as intended, then yes. RCS in current state - no point at all. What updated features RCS shall bring to the table?
    (Great demo of what it is supposed to be
    for an everyday user- youtube.com/watch?v=8_DaDp6zuZg
    Tech demo - youtube.com/watch?v=-GKl_QoXH8w)
    * Presence sense - animation, when another party is typing.
    * Number verification - verified business numbers have a verification mark and a virtual card with company name, logo and the whole other possible info on the other side. (you can rotate virtual card, yes)
    * Tickets - all kinds of e-tickets inside the messages.
    * Choice options - you can open up a dialogue with a store, choosing available options. Like choosing support type, or pizza type/size, ordering tickets inside the message. What was RCS meant to be?
    It is supposed to be a universal messaging platform, using devices internet to transfer media. Cross-platform and cross-carrier. Logically, it shall be cross-country messaging. (Why is shan't be nowadays?) What is RCS in practice?
    In practice, each mobile network operator is making its own standards, making it incompatible with others, to lock their users to their own network. (As a consequence, none of the general useful public-businesses features are implemented.) The only basic text is guaranteed to be cross-carrier. Sorry, but today we share pictures, audio, GIFs and video clips. Basic text messaging is not enough anymore! Moreover, being in a different country, using the same mobile device with the same SIM card, using local WiFi will not guarantee RCS connectivity. I had the luck to try in different countries - none! You can forget about RCS if you're not in your home country. And most annoying - you can't use RCS between your friends if they are located in different countries. Even if it is their own home countries, supporting RCS.
    All this renders RCS as a pointless service, trying to compete with other services, which have no artificial restrictions and are working as users would expect from any modern messaging service. It's like inventing a bicycle to compete with the comfortable car.
    Closest and, so far, the best from google was Allo, which google, as always, killed unexpectedly.
    Knowing Googles irrational behaviour history, it is wise to keep away from messaging services, made by Google, as they can be stopped and killed at any unpredictable time.
  • Thanks for that real world experience. Not many understand the dependence of RCS on carriers. Google does and has stood up an RCS service of its own to bypass that standard implementation. If Apple were to adopt that now, it would be propping up Google's non-standard implementation, essentially a Google 'iMessage', not supporting the up and coming standard. (Giving RCS some credit here)
  • How about neither as an option. Right now iMessage reverts to SMS (an actually implemented 'somewhat' universal standard) if it can't use iMessage. Google messaging does the same. It's RCS unless it can't; then SMS. That's why you select what your default SMS app is. RCS is not yet, or may never be, the universal replacement for SMS. It is a standard that is being rolled out, adopted, a bit haphazardly, across carriers. It does require carrier involvement and they aren't all doing it. To mitigate that Google has set up its own network/service to bypass carriers that haven't implemented RCS. That's not 'standard' RCS. fully standards based RCS doesn't have a lot of benefits, IMHO. The one that most think it does, but doesn't, is encryption. The standard supports encryption between the user and server. That's at your carrier BTW. It's not end to end, not even for point to point, and certainly not for group chats. iMessage is end to end encrypted for PtoP and group. Now getting all your Android friends to use iMessage if Apple did that for Android, would be much like getting all your iPhone (or Android) friends to use WhatSapp, or Signal or whatever. It's yet another chat app they would need to install. There are already numerous cross platform options out there, that everyone can't agree on. What makes iMessage so popular on iPhone is not the frilly features, it is that it is mindless. You use it, and it just works with whoever you are chatting, iMessage for iPhone friends, SMS for Android. You don't have to think about who uses what. That's not true of anything, but SMS on Android. Messaging, with RCS, is not the default on all Android phones, so you still need to know if your friend uses Google Messaging, WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, what have you. Or you just use Android Messaging, hoping for RCS, and your friend gets what works, just like Apple. Neither option proposed fixes anything, until RCS is the other option rather than SMS for everyone.
  • All RCS is, is an updated universal standard developed as a replacement for SMS text messages. Virtually all carriers in the US already support it as the replacement that it was designed to be, the only thing holding it back is Apple's support of it within their own text messaging app i.e. iMessage.
    So yes, Apple should definitely support it if they want to support the future version of text messaging because contrary to what they believe or want not every person in the world is going to on an iPhone and only use imessage.
  • You see - that's the exact problem we are talking about. Your sentence would be correct, if it would be rephrased as: "RCS, supposed to be a universal standard, developed as a replacement for SMS"
    It is not a universal standard, unfortunately.
    Virtually they support... in practice, you can only rely on sending/receiving text, as other media type is not guaranteed to be delivered/received if sending outside your own network.
    And let's, for a second, forget that you think the USA is the only country in the world, as for the rest of the world apple adoption of RCS will have zero effect, as iDevices are a minor player on the world market.
    And even if, Apple would be a major player on the market, Apple would still have no point in adopting it, as it already has iMessage. It would be easier to push the rest of the world to adopt the iMessage protocol.
  • The RCS Universal PROFILE is what Google chose to use when bypassing carriers, which IS a standard set out by the GSMA. It's there for carriers to implement if they want but most haven't due to Apple not bothering to adopt it. It would be far easier to Apple to adopt RCS as it IS a standard and Apple claim to support standards.
  • And why Apple would support universal profile, and not Apple specific RCS?
  • See there, you have contradicted yourself. Google bypassing the carriers, bypasses the standard. Google implementing end to end encryption, bypasses the standard. Google Messaging RCS is not the RCS Universal profile, it is Google's unilateral implementation of it with Google adaptations. It is Google's iMessage.
  • I have an intense disdain for all things apple. Especially after jobs returned. Look up how Stevie-poo treated his friend Bono about his (red) charity! If you watch any videos about old apple computers you will hear the line "once Steve jobs returned, that was nixed" and notice any of the computers were easy to access/upgrade/repair. The one word is arrogance!
  • I don't think anyone is trying force apple to make imsg available to android, more so just providing a way to better communicate with apple users and vice versa. RCS is not imsg. Let's not get this confused. Most Apple users in the United States don't want to download another messenger, alot of the time you'll hear them say don't want another app or they aren't paranoid and they don't want to download anonymous chat apps. Fair enough neither does majority of anyone else. Imsg can still boast it's security practices and it's integration or it's cross-platform ability between all apples products. RCS isn't looking to achieve this on apple devices. The benefit for Apple users is better group messages and the ability to send video and high res images to Android users without having to download another messaging app such as GroupMe telegram signal or WhatsApp. The benefit for businesses is they'll be able to message their customers in a more rich manner. (Not spam) but imagine a hair salon that could send a full graphic calendar that you could click on and schedule an appointment without having to call the salon. This would benefit Apple maps and Google maps, as businesses could sign up and pay advertising dollars to feature their business on the maps platforms. Long story short rcs is a great solution and can be implemented without compromise on Apple's side. People with iPhones are going to continue to use iMessage no matter what And it'll still continue to be a powerful tool of Apple's. I'm talking too much, I think I'll go home now.
  • I don't think Apple adopting RCS will make a difference initially because there are a lot of Android users still not using RCS! I must have 30+ contacts with Android and only (2) are using RCS. You know why cuz there are too many Android messaging apps. Most of the users I know are using Samsung messages or VZW messaging and RCS is either not available or doesn't work with Google messages.
  • I don't want anything Apple on my phone.
  • Of course the preferable route at this point would be for Apple's iMessage to support RCS. Apple did not have, nor have they ever had a propelling reason to release iMessage for Android besides rich communication with non-iphone users. But iMessage was and is a selling point for the iPhone. Releasing it for Android would take away that selling point. Making iMessage compatible with RCS would make rich communication with Android users much better. Also, when you consider that Android is the mobile OS of choice for the majority of users around the world, and most major US carriers have already adopted RCS, it would be silly for them not to make iMessage compatible at this point. It would look like they're not doing it out of spite. And spite isn't good business decision-making.
  • Apple should adopt RCS, like the rest of the industry has.
  • Apple should add RCA but keep iMessage the default for apple to apple products then have RCA default for non Apple devices and still keep sms in case something else goes wrong.
  • Bare minimum Apple should support RCS, its not a big ask. They are being monopolistic bullies and as usual the FTC let's Apple get away with everything. Remember when phones needed to standardize the charging connector and everyone complied, except Apple? Ideally and it will never happen, open up iMessage and allow Google to update and replace RCS in its native app.
  • Apple should do neither. They love only supporting dumbed down conversations with non-iMessage users. We just need to train dumb iMessage users to not use green bubbles at all ever unless it's to say something along the lines of "hey, what chat app do you use (because the SMS/MMS that iMessage uses for cross platform conversations is garbage)". Instead, they just send you some family video that looks like it was taken with an original Razer phone. Only iPhone users do that. I have never and will never activate iMessage. At least, this BS is what we expected from Apple. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have predicted Google to do as bad or maybe even worse to the instant messaging scene, with all the stupid app shuffling.
  • great article helpful me
  • Who cares??? Its another US thing... but please, no iTrash in android!;D
  • The question is: Should Apple, not us decide whether or not they should put iMessage on Android or RCS on iPhone. If Apple were to decide, I think they would put RCS on iPhone because some Android users might want to use an iPhone, but because of RCS, they use Android. Putting iMessage on Android will mean less people buying iPhone, like Apple said.
  • iMessage is a better product but we have enough consolidation in tech under a few companies so I support RCS on iPhones. Has anyone received a video from an iOS device on MMS? It's atrocious.
  • I don't actually care which way it goes...iMessage for Android or RCS for iPhone. I just want them to find a way to work together so that when I am texting with an apple user I don't get the "Loved an image", etc., instead of the actual heart or whatever. And also so that they can actually see the fun gifs, stickers, and AR emojis I send. It'd be nice to be able to share a short video between the two platforms without it turning to **** as well. Either way is fine. Why can't they just all get along.
  • RCS isn't Google's, it's not some third party application like iMessage. RCS is a completely new protocol that needs tweaks to infrastructure and carrier support. It started as an initiative by the GSM Assocation. Sure it supports rich features like iMessage but it's an SIP- and HTTP-based way for phone calls, messaging, and video calls. It's a complete upgrade to SMS and MMS. I don't think you can compare them and Apple refusing to upgrade their devices is more comparable to giving an old car a new paint job.
  • First of all, the iMessage lock in is one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason I will never switch back to Apple. I have so many reasons to make the switch back too, but I never will. It grosses me out to the nth degree, their entire ecosystem lock in is just gross. I love the freedom Android has given me since I made the switch a la iPhone 4. Been Galaxy ever since. On rcs or iMessage, I say Apple should adopt RCS. We need a unified texting standard. All the carriers are down. I don't want iMessage. I don't want them to get the satisfaction of me downloading the Android version of iMessage just to text likes to my girlfriend. I think that's the blind spot Apple has to the entire thing. Sure you've locked in customers and guaranteed future sales. But you've also locked OUT customers like me, who despise the idea of a company locking me into a particular service. I will NEVER get an iPhone because of this. Not ever. So they lost me, while keeping who they've already got. Apple hasn't even created a new feature in who knows. They steal features from Android, dumb them down, then market them like it's this great new idea (see, swipe texting, been doing it for 10 years! Apple is just now getting into it marketing it like it's this great new thing when we Androids have been doing it for a decade). Mac computers are the only attraction because of video and audio editing, but even then, I still have gone windows on every PC since my first MacBook and I just don't see the value. You can get something specs just as nice as a Mac for a quarter the price, if you're willing to deal with windows and the caveats of that. Anyway, just a nobody's opinion. Galaxy for life.
  • Never understood the iMessage lock-in complaint. Every phone out there has their messaging app. Most default to SMS if the other party isn't using Google Messaging, Samsung messaging, whatever. On an iPhone that messaging app is iMessage. It does not preclude me from installing and using WhatsApp, Signal, WeChat, TEAMS, Skype and on and on. There's no lock-in. If you are on Android, you have the issue that all your friends need to be using the same messaging app, or you default to SMS. That's true whether all your friends use Android, or you allow an iPhone user or two into your circle. If you got iMessage on Android, you would still need to convince all your friends to use it. You could do that today with any number of cross platform apps, but that doesn't seem to be happening. If in fact, RCS was the universally accepted and implemented option, like SMS is today, then it would make sense for Apple to use it instead of SMS as the fallback.
  • There are two important things to keep in mind. First off is that iMessage, aside from icloud, is one of the only things really really keeping users on iphone and if it was available elsewhere some people wouldn't have a reason to spend the extra money. Secondly, this iMessage rcs issue is really only a stateside thing. People in othee countries aren't as stubborn as here so they use whatever everyone else uses and that usually happens to be Whatsapp amongst others. RCS is tough because as far as I'm concerned carriers have to work together which I do not believe they are. Personally I prefer RCS over the two. It's another case of apple vs literally everyone else. I don't think apple would do either tbh. With facetime already available to be joined by any user I would think they'd want to guard iMessage as much as possible. I worked in a location for a major carrier and immesage is what kept people on iphones most of the time. They'd see a new Samsung and thing it looks very nice and the cameras are great with a great screen, but no iMessage so they'd be a green bubble. People hate being the green bubble.
  • I think your first sentence is a gross overestimate of the power of iMessage. Some iPhone users may put a good deal of stock into it, but the stickiness of iPhone, beyond the quality of the device, is the ecosystem that surrounds Apple products. I buy a new Mac or iPhone and it automatically knows about my assorted Apple headphones and HomePods. My Mac inherently can manage phone calls on my iPhone. I don't need to install anything. The iPhone can seamlessly switch from my Airpods Pro to Airpods Max by just putting on the ones I want to use. I can control my AppleTV from my iPhone, my iPad or my Mac, the way it comes out of the box. The fact I can do some fancy stuff with messaging with my iPhone sporting acquaintances is nice, but certainly not the thing.
  • I communicate fine with my friends and family with iPhone it's called sms... If it ain't broke why fixed it
  • Apple should adopt RCS. Either way everyone should be able to communicate seamlessly no matter what device you are on.
  • Or you Android users can do what the rest is the world does. Ignore it.
  • ☎️ ➡️ SMS ➡️ MMS ➡️ RCS 📲 - It's the modern form of messaging for those who can't use other means wherever they are. It would be nice to have iMessage available for Android users sure but at the very least Apple should support normal messages as they are now. SMS is obsolete, so support RCS text-messages. Open-Standards even between competing entities are important for the industry and for innovation moving forward.
  • imessage to android. but they will never do it. too much risk of losing market share. if they did, it would be a paid service.
  • iMessage is never coming to Android. rcs Should be added to iMessage. but google needs to fix messages on Android , it's garbage as it is
  • In a perfect world RCS was already opened up so texting apps some of us actually prefer to use could take advantage of it. iPhones should fall back to RCS, but RCS can't just be a Google/Samsung Messages thing.
  • RCS is supported by all major and may minor carriers in the USA, and is additionally supported by many other carriers around the world, I presume this list grows continuously. this makes it a worldwide standard, not just a USA standard. when you think about it in those terms, Apple is really a lone decenter in a very big market.
  • Either way is fine, all users want seem less sharing between all devices.
    I have used both devices and would continue to use my apple or Android regladless of who texting software is used. Apple should have more confidence about that.
  • I think Aople should do both. Me personally I view that imessage is like a form of social media but any other device is left out. Also rcs is more secure if your texting from an android. So for security and for "social" inclusion Apple should definitely do both.
  • I would've voted for a third option of "do nothing".
    There business model is to make sure ppl are locked in. Their research probably says that the current imessage strategy has made more ppl switch to Apple devices rather then people leave Apple devices. They will surely take some action when their data shows otherwise. Then they'll claim its for the sake of "privacy and security".
  • Hard to take Google seriously until Google Voice supports RCS.
  • Well first of all, imessage is never going to go to Android... So let's just end it there. They are obsessed with their green and blue bubbles.
    The only hope is RCS going to imessage.
  • Third option: Apple users grow up and stop thinking themselves higher and nobler than people who show up as a green bubble in their text string. After all, it is their phone choice that implemented that childish nonsense. Couldn't. Care. Less what color m