iPhone gets RCS for better texting with Androids


iPhone and iMessage get RCS in iOS 18
iPhone and Android texting is better with RCS.
Image: Apple

Apple Let Loose Event:Apple previewed support for RCS messaging in the iOS 18 Messages app at WWDC24. Adding Rich Communication Services will bring enhanced texting between iPhone and Android users, with features not possible before.

It’s a change Apple dragged its feet on for many years.

iMessage and iPhone with RCS, at long last

iPhone and Android users can already exchange simple SMS and MMS messages. But because Apple’s iMessage system does not support Rich Communication Services, what can be included in texts sent between the platforms is limited.That changes when iOS launches, at long last.

Apple promises that “RCS (Rich Communication Services) messages bring richer media and delivery and read receipts for those who don’t use iMessage.” The company also promises, “more reliable group messaging compared to SMS and MMS.”

At WWDC24, Apple showed that in a future version of the Messages app, texts exchanged between an iPhone and Android will include read receipts and high-resolution images. A voice message can also be sent.

That said, Android users can expect to stay in the traditional green bubble, while iPhone users will be have a grey bubble. Blue bubbles are reserved for iPhone-to-iPhone conversations that use the Apple’s iMessage system.

Why the change?

Monday’s demo of RCS support for iPhone didn’t come as a surprise. Last November, Apple committed to adding RCS to iMessage.

But it is somewhat surprising that the Mac-maker is embracing Rich Communication Services ant all after so many years of avoiding it. 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.

Please stand by

iPhone users can’t exchange RCS messages with their Android friends today. In fact, it’ll be months. Although the feature was unveiled at WWDC24, it will reach iPhone when iOS 18 launches this autumn — probably in September.

And RCS is only the start. There are lots of other changes coming to the Messages application in iOS 18. Most notably, it can generate fun, relevant images, as well as brand new emoji.

Anyone feeling impatient can sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program. It’s free, but also guarantees buggy devices.


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