According to 9to5Mac, Apple plans to introduce support for RCS texting, a newer standard used by most Android phones, to the iPhone in 2024.
“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association,” Apple spokesperson Jacqueline Roy says in a statement. “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.”
When transmitting messages between iPhone and Android devices, the iPhone embracing RCS might provide support for encryption, read receipts, typing indicators, high-resolution photos and videos, and more. According to 9to5Mac, Apple will allow users to exchange locations in text threads, and RCS communications will be green, just way SMS messages are currently.
It's unclear how RCS messaging will operate on iPhones, but according to 9to5Mac, "this is not Apple opening up iMessage to other platforms" (emphasis theirs). Instead of SMS and MMS, RCS will "exist separately from iMessage when available."
The shift is most likely a result of regulatory pressure from the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates major corporations like Apple to make their services interoperable with other platforms. The European Commission launched an investigation into iMessage in September to assess whether it can be classified as a "core platform service." Apple, on the other hand, reportedly maintained that iMessage isn't popular enough in Europe for the regulations to apply, and it plans to submit an appeal against the government's regulation of its services.
Companies such as Google and Samsung have long lobbied Apple to include RCS functionality with flashy marketing campaigns and movies. (Samsung did not respond quickly to a request for comment.) Google wrote a letter to the European Commission earlier this month arguing that iMessage should be deemed a fundamental platform service under the DMA. Even Nothing, owned by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, decided to retaliate against Apple by introducing iMessage-style messaging to its Android phones.
“Everybody should have secure and modern messaging without worrying what kind of phone they’re texting to,” Google SVP of platforms and ecosystems Hiroshi Lockheimer said on X (formerly Twitter). “So glad to see Apple joining our ongoing work with the GSMA on RCS to make texting better for all!”
RCS is a much-needed update for those who have struggled with the various problems that arise while texting between iPhones and Android phones, like the inability of SMS to encrypt messages and the transfer of low-quality videos. Apple may not be doing this voluntarily.