RCS support is finally coming to iPhones. After years of begging Apple to support Rich Communication Services (RCS) – a standard amongst Android and Google devices – the big fruit company has announced it’s finally yielding to the pressure, according to a report from 9to5Mac. It’s expected to arrive via a software update “later next year,” bringing with it a swathe of features that iMessage quite frankly lacks.
“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association,” Apple said in a statement shared with 9to5Mac. “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.”
It’s a rather different tune from what Apple’s CEO Tim Cook sang as late as September 2022. During a Recode conference, the CEO said “I don’t hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy in on that at this point,” in response to an attendee who asked about Apple’s potential plans for RCS support. “Buy your mom an iPhone,” was Cook’s final remark on the subject.
RCS is RCS
The most likely reason is that Apple was beginning to feel the pressure from the European Digital Markets Act (DMA), after the EU announced new rules that included a clause that essentially said large messaging services could be compelled to meet a level of interoperability, in the interest of making the service more accessible.
Google apparently didn’t get the ‘snitches get stitches’ memo, after reportedly sending in a letter, seen by The Financial Times, to the EU claiming iMessage should be considered “a core platform service,” and follow the same rules as Samsung, Google and the like. Apple is attempting to fight back, making the argument iMessage isn’t popular enough in Europe for the rules to apply.
Still, a win is a win, even if it wasn’t because of Apple’s good grace that brought on the change of heart. RCS support means that users outside of Apple’s walled garden can enjoy features that have been standard on Android when messaging someone inside said garden; end-to-end encryption, high-res images and videos, typing indicators, and read receipts. Unfortunately for some, RCS messages will keep the green bubble as SMSes currently appear on an iPhone. Sorry blue-bubble lovers.