During Google I/O 2022, Apple was indirectly referenced in a not-so-subtle jab over its lack of RCS support for iPhone users. RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is the modern upgrade to SMS texting that Apple leapfrogged with iMessage over a decade ago.
“We hope that every mobile operating system gets the message, and upgrades to RCS, so your messages are private, no matter what device you’re using,” a company executive argued during the presentation. This security angle is one that Google now uses annually.
RCS improves basic SMS with support for features like read receipts and encryption. Apple built these features into iMessage when it debuted as part of iOS 5 in 2011, but Apple’s messaging service isn’t available on non-Apple devices.
The fluidity of messaging between iPhones (denoted by blue bubbles) has been a major marketing win for Apple compared to the static experience of iPhone to Android phones (denoted by green bubbles).
In an alternate timeline without iMessage, RCS would be an easy feature upgrade for Apple to deliver to iPhone users. In reality, Apple solved the problem for iPhone users that RCS solves for Android users over ten years ago.
Should Apple still support RCS on iPhone for text communication that doesn’t use iMessage? I think the only good argument for ignoring RCS is that it might sell more iPhones. For Apple, that might be reason enough to ignore RCS, unless and until the company is compelled to change its mind by carrier services, regulators, or customers.
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