February 24, 2024
A person holding the Apple iPhone 15 Plus.
Andy Boxall / Digital Developments

Hell has frozen over. On November 16, 2023, Apple made the very sudden announcement that it was bringing help for RCS on the iPhone in 2024.

In 2022, Tim Cook dinner himself mentioned that he’d somewhat promote you an iPhone as an alternative of ever bringing RCS help to the iPhone as a result of he thought buyer demand for RCS wasn’t there. Google has made quite a few makes an attempt to disgrace Apple over its pushback of RCS over time.

Figuring out how cussed Apple may be with such selections, nobody anticipated Apple to lastly collapse, particularly after what Cook dinner mentioned. However it’s taking place, and this may very well be one of many largest bulletins that Apple has made this whole yr.

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The RCS crash course

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Since this shock announcement, there was some confusion. Lots of people, particularly those that probably haven’t used an Android cellphone and solely an iPhone, aren’t accustomed to Wealthy Communication Providers (aka RCS).

We’ve coated the historical past of RCS a couple of occasions right here at Digital Developments, however in brief, it’s mainly a substitute protocol for SMS/MMS that was first based in 2007. In 2018, Google mentioned it was working with the main carriers to undertake RCS, and this resulted in Chat — a protocol primarily based on the RCS Common Profile. Mainly, it’s a worldwide RCS commonplace that permits subscribers from varied carriers and international locations to speak with one another.

At present, Android telephones have RCS help, and it really works equally to iMessage. With RCS, you possibly can see typing indicators, learn receipts, capability to ship and obtain messages over mobile and Wi-Fi, share your location, and ship and obtain high-resolution images and video.

Whereas the function set of RCS is much like iMessage, it doesn’t have every little thing that iMessage has, like stickers and Memojis, in addition to the flexibility to edit or unsend a message.

An Apple spokesperson despatched this assertion to 9to5Mac:

“Later subsequent yr, we will probably be including help for RCS Common Profile, the usual as presently revealed by the GSM Affiliation. We imagine RCS Common Profile will provide a greater interoperability expertise when in comparison with SMS or MMS. This can work alongside iMessage, which is able to proceed to be one of the best and most safe messaging expertise for Apple customers.”

So, why is that this necessary?

iMessage on an iPhone 14 Pro Max, plus iMessage on an Android phone using the Beeper app.
Joe Maring / Digital Developments

When you might or might not care about RCS as a result of your whole family and friends use iPhones anyway, that is nonetheless large information. Ultimately, it is a transfer that advantages everybody regardless, and it’s a step in the correct route.

It could have been stress from the European Union to make Apple open up iMessage (and the App Retailer), sort of like how Apple converted to USB-C for the iPhone 15. Nonetheless, plainly laws is what really makes progress and developments within the tech merchandise that we use as an alternative of simply competitors.

It’s additionally necessary to notice that SMS/MMS has by no means, and by no means will, be end-to-end encrypted. That makes SMS extremely weak in relation to safe messaging, and anybody who’s able to intercepting them is ready to learn them. RCS, at the very least presently on Android telephones, has end-to-end encryption. It may not be as sturdy as Apple’s encryption with iMessage, but it surely’s undoubtedly safer than plain SMS.

Nevertheless, it seems that Apple’s upcoming help for RCS is not going to embody Google’s end-to-end encryption extension. As a substitute, it seems Apple will probably be working with the requirements physique to sanction a common encryption technique as an alternative. This can be a logical strategy since Google’s E2EE extension is proprietary and would exclude different RCS Common Profile customers.

For most individuals, they might by no means discover a distinction as soon as RCS is added to iOS, particularly in the event that they don’t already textual content with somebody who makes use of Android. However simply because one group of customers doesn’t care doesn’t imply it gained’t please others. Apple bringing RCS to the iPhone is certainly a giant deal, and it advantages everybody, whether or not they want it or not.

The blue and inexperienced bubble battle isn’t going away

iMessage group chat with an Android user showing the green bubbles.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Developments

When this was first introduced, there was quite a lot of hypothesis on whether or not or not RCS messages could be a special coloration from SMS, which is inexperienced. Because it seems, no, RCS messages will keep on with the inexperienced bubbles identical to SMS.

Sadly, which means the social divide between the blue and inexperienced bubbles will stay in place. For many adults, this most likely doesn’t matter a lot, if in any respect (except you’re within the relationship scene I assume), but it surely seems to be a much bigger deal for youngsters.

Actually, the colour of the bubbles has by no means bothered me — I’m not going to not speak to somebody simply because they use an Android cellphone. It simply means I gained’t have the ability to do the entire options in iMessage with that individual. However I can nonetheless talk with them, and that’s the complete level of the Messages app within the first place. Sure, I sometimes joke in regards to the blue/inexperienced bubble factor, however I by no means take it significantly.

Since RCS messages will keep inexperienced, most individuals most likely gained’t discover a distinction after they textual content, at the very least immediately. However after they begin seeing typing indicators and browse receipts, in addition to media that doesn’t appear like it got here from a flip cellphone within the 2000s, individuals would possibly marvel what’s happening.

It’s about rattling time

Nothing Chats on a Nothing Phone 2 compared with iMessage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.
iMessage on an iPhone 15 Professional Max (left) and Nothing Chats on a Nothing Cellphone 2 Andy Boxall / Digital Developments

I’ve been pining for a greater resolution for messaging between iPhones and Androids for a couple of years now. The rationale for that is that I’m always speaking with my household by means of group chats, and whereas my mother and brother each use an iPhone, my sister is the outlier amongst us with an Android cellphone.

An enormous grievance I’ve had has been the lack to ship and obtain high-resolution images and video, particularly in relation to sharing what my daughter’s been as much as or our pets. At any time when my sister sends a video or vice versa, it appears to be like like it’s potato high quality and feels prefer it got here from the early 2000s. Mainly, I can’t inform what the hell is occurring within the video as a result of it’s so rattling tiny and pixelated — what’s the purpose?

I’ve additionally had a number of cases the place I felt I didn’t have to partake within the group dialog as a result of it wasn’t related to me. Nevertheless, group chats with an Android person on an iPhone have been so irritating since you possibly can’t simply go away the group like an iMessage group chat. So, I’ve simply left these on mute.

From the appears to be like of it, RCS might not resolve all the issues I’ve — it’s unclear for those who’ll have the ability to go away group chats with an Android person, for instance. However so long as the picture and video high quality don’t appear like it was taken with a potato anymore, I believe I can dwell with it.

iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Pro on leaves.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Developments

As I mentioned earlier than, plainly laws is more practical in opening up the gates to Apple’s walled backyard than competitors. The EU was a significant factor in getting Apple to change from Lighting to USB-C on the iPhone 15, and the antitrust laws continues with the App Retailer and now iMessage providers.

Very like the change to USB-C for the iPhone, Apple including RCS help is big. It’s one of many largest bulletins the corporate has made this yr, largely as a result of nobody was anticipating it, and it’s one other step in the direction of a extra universally acceptable platform. And you realize what? That’s fairly rattling cool.

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