iMessage getting RCS for better cross-platform texting in fall 2024


iMessage vs. RCS ends in last 2024
The feature-limited version of texting available between iPhone and Android will come to an end in about six months.
Image: Apple

Google let slip that Apple will fulfill its promise to add support for Rich Communication Services to the iPhone Messages app “in the fall of 2024.”

That almost certainly means iPhone and Android users will enjoy higher quality cross-platform texting with the release of iOS 18 and not before.

iMessage could get RCS in late 2024

iPhone and Android users can already exchange simple SMS and MMS messages. But because iMessage does not support Rich Communication Services, what can be included in texts sent between the platforms is limited. There are no emoji reactions, read receipts or other advanced features.

And that’s the way things stayed for years, despite ongoing appeals from Android-maker Google.

But last November, Apple committed to adding RCS to iMessage. It’s possible the change is the result of behind-the-scenes pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice as it prepared the blockbuster antitrust lawsuit against Apple filed in mid March.

iMessage bullying
iMessage is apparently going to keep green and  blue text bubbles so everyone knows who has an Android.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

However, when the iPhone-maker made the commitment it did not give a very specific timeline, just saying in late 2023 that the change would happen “later next year.”

Google revealed a bit more, though apparently without clearing it with Apple first. A new landing page for Google Messages (spotted by 9to5Google) noted, “Apple has announced it will be adopting RCS in the fall of 2024.”

The note has since been removed, though it’s still available via the Wayback Machine.

That seems to be a clear indication that RCS support is coming to iMessage in iOS 18, which is expected to launch in September 2024. That was already likely based on Apple’s own comment about timing, but this might be a confirmation that RCS support won’t arrive in an upcoming iOS 17 update.

We’ll likely find out for sure in June at Apple’s WWDC24 when the next iPhone operating system will be announced.


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