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Google Scores Big as Apple Plans to Support RCS on iPhone from Next Year

Apple has finally announced that starting in 2024, the iPhone will support Rich Communication Services (RCS) following pressure from Google, Samsung, and regulators. According to 9to5Mac, the support for RCS will be added via a software update scheduled for release “later next year,” enabling messaging between iPhone and Android users to include many iMessage features.

This move is considered a big win for Google, which had been pressuring Apple to add support for RCS since 2022. Samsung also joined the battle earlier this year. Currently, when an Android user chats with an iPhone user or participates in a group chat with iPhone owners, the conversation switches from iMessage on iOS (and RCS on Android) to SMS/MMS, disabling all special iMessage/RCS features and lowering the quality of shared photos and videos. Apple’s support for RCS is expected to change this.

RCS already offers many of the same features found on iMessage, including read receipts, typing indicators, end-to-end encryption, high-quality photos and videos, and the ability to send longer messages. It also works over mobile data and Wi-Fi, unlike SMS/MMS. Apple’s support of RCS is aimed at putting an end to the teasing and bullying that teenage Android users have faced from iPhone users in group chats.

While Apple may retain green text bubbles for Android and blue text bubbles for iOS users, RCS support is expected to give both iOS and Android users access to the same messaging features. It’s worth noting that iMessage will not disappear from the iPhone; once RCS support is implemented, it will be a separate messaging platform from iMessage, with SMS/MMS still available as a backup option.

The pressure from the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) almost forced Apple to support RCS earlier this year. However, Apple received a temporary reprieve when iMessage was not deemed to be a “gatekeeper,” and today’s announcement allows Apple to proactively embrace RCS before any forced acceptance.

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