Apple has announced it will adopt RCS messaging in 2024 for its iPhones, 9to5Mac reports. Rich Communication Services (RCS) is the latest standard communication protocol used by most Android devices and it will bring improved messaging between iPhone and Android phones.
“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to 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.”
Apple’s decision to adopt RCS support comes as it faces enormous pressure from the European Union due to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Under the DMA regulations, big tech companies like Apple must make their messaging services interoperable with other messaging platforms to allow the exchange of messages, files, or video calling. Competitors like Google and Samsung have long pushed for interoperability, and Apple has held firm until now.
In a statement on Thursday, Google said it was happy to see Apple embracing RCS. “We welcome Apple’s participation in our ongoing work with GSMA to evolve RCS and make messaging more equitable and secure, and look forward to working with them to implement this on iOS in a way that works well for everyone” Google announced on X.
With RCS support in 2024 on the iPhones, there will be iMessage-style features between iPhone and Android communication including read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality images and videos, and many more. Location sharing between the two platforms will be possible over mobile data or WiFi. 9to5Mac clarifies that “this is not Apple opening up iMessage to other platforms,” the company is only adopting RCS to replace SMS and MMS. Still, iMessage will remain the messaging platform for communication between iPhone users.
While RCS encryption is not as strong as iMessage, it is still far better than SMS. Apple says it will work with GSMA members to improve the RCS protocol.