Earlier on Thursday, there was big news as Apple agreed to add Rich Communication Services (RCS) support to the iPhone next year. RCS offers most of the same features as iMessage, such as end-to-end encryption, read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality photos and videos, and the ability to send larger messages. RCS can be used over a mobile data connection and Wi-Fi. Apple will also add a feature inside RCS that will allow users to share their location inside text threads.
Google, joined by Samsung earlier this year, had been pressuring Apple to add RCS support to the iPhone. Without such support, whenever Android users message an iPhone user, they automatically do so over the old school SMS platform that shares photos and videos in low quality and doesn’t provide the aforementioned features that both iMessage and RCS do.
According to 9to5Google, Google stated that “Everyone deserves to communicate with each other in ways that are modern and secure, no matter what phone they have. That’s why we have worked closely with the mobile industry to accelerate the adoption of RCS, and we’re happy to see Apple take their first step today by coming on board to embrace RCS. We welcome Apple’s participation in our ongoing work with GSMA to evolve RCS and make messaging more equitable and secure and look forward to working with them to implement this on iOS in a way that works well for everyone.”
Apple has already said that it plans on adding RCS as a separate messaging option that iPhone users will be able to use when available. Apple plans on adding this support via a software update that it will send out “sometime later next year.” SMS will still be available as a backup.
Additionally, Apple called iMessage the “best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” and said that they want to work with the GSMA, the organization representing mobile network operators worldwide, to add stronger encryption to RCS.
During the Google I/O developer conference in May, Sameer Samat, the VP of the Android ecosystem, said that by the end of this year, RCS will have 1 billion users worldwide. Samat also said at the event, “We hope every mobile operating system gets the message and adopts RCS so we can all hang out in the group chat together — no matter what device we’re using.” This will become a reality sometime next year.