Apple To Support RCS Messaging Standard For iPhone From Next Year: Here's What It Means For Android Users

Swarajya Staff

Nov 17, 2023, 01:29 PM | Updated Dec 14, 2023, 05:16 PM IST

Apple logo
Apple logo

In a significant move, Apple has announced its plan to support the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard by 2024, enabling enhanced messaging features between iPhone and Android users.

This move will facilitate cross-platform messaging capabilities between iPhone and Android devices, offering features similar to iMessage.

These include read receipts, typing indicators, and the ability to send high-quality images and videos, all independent of the operating system used.

RCS, a modern messaging protocol, advances the traditional functions of SMS and MMS. It enables the transmission and reception of messages via mobile data or Wi-Fi, along with the utilization of diverse media and interactive functionalities.

Google has long advocated for RCS, aiming to establish a cohesive messaging ecosystem for Android users.

Initially hesitant, Apple preferred its users to rely exclusively on iMessage rather than adopting RCS. This stance is expected to shift in the coming year, with an update planned for release in 2024.

In a statement to 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said that RCS will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS, and that they will add support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association, later next year.

However, this development does not imply that Apple intends to make its iMessage protocol accessible on other platforms. iMessage will continue to be exclusive to Apple devices, although it will operate alongside RCS post-update. SMS and MMS will remain in use as secondary options, employed only when RCS and iMessage are not available.

Google has been lobbying hard for Apple to support RCS, as they wanted to bridge the gap between iPhone and Android users. They initiated multiple campaigns, including “Get the Message”, to advocate for RCS and encourage Apple to adopt the standard.

Moreover, Google has utilised social media, marketing videos, and even approached EU regulators to exert influence on Apple.

Samsung, too, has contributed to push Apple towards RCS adoption through their collaboration with Google in integrating RCS into their products.

However, a significant influencer in Apple's decision may have been the European Union.

The EU has been cracking down on Apple’s practices that limit competition and consumer choice. For example, the EU has forced Apple to adopt USB-C as a common charging standard for its devices.

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