Apple RCS Support Coming To iPhones In 2024
Apple has unexpectedly declared today that it will be implementing the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging protocol. A software update will introduce the capability “later next year,” offering a plethora of iMessage-like functionalities to users of iPhones and Android phones.
Apple made its choice in response to pressure from competitors such as Google and Samsung, as well as authorities. It also coincides with RCS’s ongoing development into a more sophisticated platform than it before was.
Cross-platform texting now has iMessage-style features thanks to RCS.
An Apple representative told 9to5Mac in a statement that the company thinks RCS would provide improved cross-platform communication interoperability.
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.
RCS enables cross-platform communications between iPhone and Android smartphones with many features similar to those found in iMessage. This features high-quality photos and videos, typing indicators, read receipts, and more.
According to the business, Apple’s RCS implementation will also enable users to communicate their position with other users inside text threads. In contrast to standard SMS, RCS can be sent via Wi-Fi or mobile data.
But at the same time, iMessage isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to be the messaging platform used for all communication between iPhone users. RCS will simply supplant SMS and MMS and exist separately from iMessage when available. SMS and MMS will also continue to be available as a fallback when needed, Apple says.
This is not Apple opening up iMessage to other platforms. Instead, it’s the company adopting RCS separately from iMessage.
Apple also reiterates that iMessage is far more secure and privacy-friendly than RCS. iMessage is end-to-end encrypted, and Apple just took that up a notch with Advanced Data Protection for Messages in iCloud. Meanwhile, Apple says that RCS does not currently support encryption that is as strong as iMessage.
Apple’s decision to adopt RCS follows years of pressure from some of its competitors, including Samsung and Google. Until today, the company resisted that pressure and instead doubled down on iMessage. It has, however, rolled out some improvements to the SMS experience between iPhone and Android devices.
For example, Apple added better support for Tapbacks in iOS 16 for conversations between iPhone and Android users. With iOS 17, Apple also brought features such as threaded replies and message editing to iPhone users (but not Android users) in SMS group chats.
Finally, Apple says it will work with the GSMA members on ways to further improve the RCS protocol. This particularly includes improving the security and encryption of RCS messages. Apple also told 9to5Mac that it will not use any sort of proprietary end-to-end encryption on top of RCS. Its focus is on improving the RCS standard itself.