Apple has announced that it will support Rich Communication Services (RCS) in its iMessage app in 2024, allowing improved messaging between iPhones and Android smartphones. RCS is a messaging protocol that offers features such as group chats, read receipts, high-quality media sharing, and end-to-end encryption. RCS is currently used by Google’s Android Messages app and other third-party apps.
Apple’s decision to support RCS comes after years of resistance and pressure from regulators, competitors, and consumers. Apple has long considered iMessage as one of its unique selling points and a way to lock users into its ecosystem. However, the company has faced criticism for not allowing interoperability with other messaging platforms and for creating a “green bubble” stigma for Android users.
In a statement to 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said “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.”
Apple’s move to support RCS is expected to have a positive impact on the messaging experience for both iPhone and Android users. It will enable seamless and secure communication across different devices and platforms, and reduce the fragmentation and confusion caused by multiple messaging apps. It will also allow users to enjoy the benefits of RCS features, such as suggested replies, location sharing, and enhanced media quality.
However, some challenges and uncertainties remain for the implementation and adoption of RCS. For instance, RCS relies on the support and cooperation of mobile carriers, who may have different interests and incentives than Apple and Google. Moreover, RCS may face competition from other popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal, which already offer end-to-end encryption and other advanced features. Finally, RCS may not be able to fully replicate the unique features and functionalities of iMessage, such as Animojis, Memojis, and Apple Pay.
Apple’s announcement to support RCS in iMessage in 2024 is a significant and surprising development in the messaging landscape. It marks a shift in Apple’s strategy and a recognition of the changing market dynamics and consumer preferences. It also signals a potential opportunity for more collaboration and innovation in the messaging industry.