Apple improving iPhone-Android messaging with RCS in 2024

Apple announced (via 9to5Mac) today that it’s adding RCS support to the iPhone in a great boost to Android-iOS messaging.

Specifically, the iPhone will be updated to support the RCS Universal Profile (from the GSM Association) in a future iOS release later next year. SMS remains as a fallback when RCS isn’t available.

RCS, or Rich Communications Services, is an upgrade to SMS/MMS that supports modern messaging features like typing indicators with read receipts (which can be turned off), and high-resolution photos and videos. This works by uploading to the cloud and the recipient getting a randomized URL that simply loads the image/video.

Group messaging has been improved with better controls to leave and join conversations. You can also send RCS messages over any internet connection (Wi-Fi and mobile data) instead of requiring your carrier’s cellular network.

Apple calls out the lack of strong encryption in the RCS specification and says it wants to work with GSMA members on adding that. Google Messages on Android offers its own end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for 1:1 and group conversations.

Apple is rolling out RCS Universal Profile support to the iPhone in 2024, and did not share many implementation details today. As such, iOS could very well keep displaying messages from Android devices with green bubbles. Notably, this is not Apple opening up access to iMessage.

Since 2021, Google has publicly called out Apple for not adopting RCS. This culminated in a “Get The Message” advertising campaign on social media and even in the real world. Most recently, in September, Google equated the RCS-less iPhone to a pager.  


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