Apple has just confirmed that iPhones will add support for RCS, the messaging protocol used by most Android phones, in 2024.
According to The Verge, Apple spokesperson Jacqueline Roy said in a statement that the company will support RCS Universal Profile, the standard just announced by the GSM Association. The company believes RCS Universal Profile will offer better interoperability when compared to SMS or MMS. Together with iMessage, they will bring the best and safest messaging experience to Apple users.
iPhone with RCS can enable support for encryption, read receipts, typing indicators, high-resolution images, and videos when sending text between iPhone and Android devices. However, Apple confirmed that it will allow users to share location in text strings and that RCS messages will be green like current SMS messages.
Exactly how RCS messaging will work on the iPhone is unclear, but 9to5Mac says this isn’t Apple opening up iMessage to other platforms. Instead, RCS will replace SMS and MMS, and exist separately from iMessage when available.
This change is most likely because Apple wants to respond to legal pressure from Apple D The European Union’s (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA), a rule that requires large companies, such as Apple, to make their services interoperable with other platforms. In September, the European Commission (EC) opened an investigation into iMessage to determine whether it should be considered a “core platform service”. However, Apple believes that iMessage is not popular enough in Europe for the rules to apply, and it is planning to file a regulatory appeal against the App Store.
Companies like Google and Samsung have long pushed Apple to add support for RCS with various campaigns. In particular, Google sent a letter to the European Commission arguing that iMessage should be considered a core platform service under the DMA earlier this month.