Apple has announced that it will be adding support for RCS messaging on iPhone from early next year.
As reported by our friends at TechRadar, RCS is a communications system developed by the GSM Association and used across most of the Android ecosystem. Apple’s refusal to support the standard has been a source of much discontent because its adoption on iPhone would bring much better interoperability between iPhone and Android when it comes to sending messages.
It’s possible support will end the classic Green and Blue bubble divide that has plagued the two camps.
“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe the 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 said in a statement.
No more blue and green?
According to the report Apple has acknowledged “that RCS is an improvement over MMS and SMS but made it clear that RCS is not replacing iMessage and its host of features like memojies, stickers, and the ability to edit and unsend messages.”
RCS will come to the iPhone in a software update and then it’s up to carriers to add it. The only timeframe given is “early next year.”
While this has been touted as an end to the aforementioned green bubble issue, there’s nothing to indicate that Apple won’t keep its shiny blue bubbles for iMessage while leaving RCS messages green, just like it does with SMS or MMS. Further details reveal Apple will not support any extensions that try to add encryption on top of RCS, which will be interesting given RCS messages are not end-to-end encrypted, unlike iMessage. As 9to5Mac notes, it will bring some cool features like read receipts, better quality images, and typing indicators.
It follows a bizarre story this week in which Nothing revealed it had created a way to send iMessage from Android with a very sketchy workaround that involves giving the company your Apple ID username and password.
Whether this step paves the way for iMessage on Android devices and beyond is another story entirely, and nothing about Apple adopting RCS will require the company to make its iMessage service any more open or interoperable. This is at least some good news for users communicating between the two platforms.
Given this will be a software update, we can assume this is a feature coming to all of Apple’s iPhone range supported by iOS 17, including its best iPhone the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro.