Apple has announced its adoption of the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging standard, according to a 9to5Mac report. The update, expected “later next year,” follows Google’s call to the EU Commission to compel Apple to open iMessage for RCS compatibility.
After facing pressure from competitors like Samsung and Google, Apple has finally embraced RCS, introducing iMessage-style features for cross-platform messaging between iPhones and Android devices. These features include read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality media sharing, and more.
While iMessage remains the primary communication platform for iPhone users, RCS will replace SMS and MMS, operating separately and supporting mobile data or Wi-Fi. iMessage will persist for communication exclusively among iPhone users, with SMS and MMS serving as fallback options when necessary.
Recent iOS updates, such as iOS 16 and iOS 17, have improved support for interactions between iPhone and Android users. Notable additions include Tapbacks, threaded replies, and message editing in SMS group chats.
Apple aims to collaborate with GSMA members to enhance the RCS protocol, focusing on security and encryption. Unlike competitors, Apple won’t add proprietary end-to-end encryption to RCS, concentrating on improving the standard itself. This move aligns with Google, whose end-to-end encryption is integrated into the Android Messages app rather than the RCS specification.
In a statement provided to 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson mentioned:
Next year, we plan to incorporate support for RCS Universal Profile, following the standard as presently outlined by the GSM Association. We anticipate that RCS Universal Profile will provide an enhanced interoperability experience compared to SMS or MMS. This will complement iMessage, which will persist as the superior and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.