Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Apple will add RCS support to Messages

Apple has told Chance Miller of 9to5Mac that it will be supporting the RCS standard for messaging:

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.

Here’s what this means:

  • iPhone communications with Android devices via Messages will improve. Currently Messages uses the old SMS and MMS standards for sending texts and media to Android phones. RCS supports better image transfers, pass-along of location data (used in several Messages features), and more.
  • It might mean that these messages are more secure than they used to be, though the fundamental security of RCS as a protocol is a little hazy. Apple says it’ll work with the GSM Association to improve the standard, which might include security improvements? We’ll see.

  • It absolutely doesn’t mean that “green bubble shame” is going anywhere. There’s no way that Apple will promote RCS messages to blue bubbles in Messages. Not only does the blue bubble indicate that messages are from other Apple devices, it indicates that they’ve been sent securely using iMessage. It’s not just branding, it’s meaningful. It’s unclear if RCS messages will use green bubbles or some other color, but it won’t be iMessage blue for sure.

  • This is coming in a software update next year, so either a late iOS 17 update or iOS 18.

Why is Apple doing this? It sure feels like a way to indicate its support of open standards at a time when it’s being investigated by various bodies, most notably in the European Union. Who knows if it’ll work?

Either way, this is a good announcement. It’s hard to believe that Apple still falls back to SMS and MMS for all communications with Android devices. RCS isn’t a replacement for iMessage, but it will improve chats with Android users within Messages. This hasn’t just been a user experience problem for Android users, it’s been one for iPhone users who have Android users in their lives.

—Linked by Jason Snell

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