When that finally happens, iPhone owners and Android users will be able to share media like photos and videos in messages in high quality. They’ll also see read receipts and typing indicators as their conversations unfold, and Apple says users will be able to share their location in chat threads.
It’s a welcome change for consumers on both sides of the iOS/Android divide, but Apple’s concession may also be intended to please another audience: European lawmakers. For months, the European Commission has been trying to determine whether Apple’s iMessage is a big enough platform to be regulated by the EU’s Digital Markets Act – a decision that could force Apple to make iMessage compatible with competing messaging services .
Whatever the reason for its about-face, Apple is late to the party. Almost all reasonably popular email services have had these features for years. (Of course, that includes iMessage.) So why the delay?
The reason these features aren’t available to iPhone users who text their friends with Android phones – and vice versa – is that they simply aren’t possible by decades-old technical standards which make SMS (i.e. normal text messages) and MMS (or multimedia messages) possible.
For years, Apple has chosen to beef up its iMessage service with new features while relying on these aging formats to deliver text messages and images to and from non-iPhones. During this time, mobile carriers, device manufacturers, and even Google itself have embraced the RCS standard and fleshed out the infrastructure to make it work.
Now, by adopting RCS, Apple is also adopting a more uniform type of messaging experience, one that should be pretty similar no matter what type of phone you’re using.
“We believe the RCS Universal Profile will provide a better interoperability experience compared to SMS or MMS,” the company said in a statement.
But none of this means Apple will roll out RCS support in the same way as some competitors. Google has technically gone beyond the technical standard to include end-to-end encryption of RCS messages – meaning they are undecipherable to businesses and the networks they pass through to get from one phone to another – sent via his Google messages. application.
Apple says this isn’t something the company plans to do itself; instead, it wants to make the RCS standard itself more secure, a process that likely won’t happen immediately.
Apple’s announcement is also unlikely to mark the end of the tension between the green and blue bubbles. iMessage isn’t going anywhere, and the company says messages shared between Android devices and iPhones will continue to be color-coded as they are now.
RCS Messaging “will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” the company’s statement said.
Unless they buy an iPhone as Tim Cook suggested to someone defending the RCS at a conference, Android users, tired of the stigma of the green bubble, must turn to external actors working to bring iMessage to Android – or wait to see if Europe forces Apple to open up the system. platform to everyone.
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