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Suggestions and Tips: what Apple’s RCS change means for you

Apple is changing the way you chat over iMessage. Apple is adopting RCS (Rich Communication Services), the messaging standard already used by its smartphone competitors Google and Samsung. The change will bring with it democratised texting between Apple and Android operating systems, heightened security and a few new features.

But what is RCS, and why should you care? Here’s all the info you need to know.

What is it?

After much back and forth, iPhones will now support RCS messaging standard. The move will essentially help iPhone and Android devices play nicer with each other. An obvious marker of this is the green speech bubble that appears when an iPhone texts and Android. Between two iPhones, that would be blue.

The change could allow for read receipts between the two operating systems. We imagine there’ll be some additional features rolled out in due time.

Why should I care?

RCS messaging isn’t exactly a glamorous subject, but it matters to your messaging. RCS is considered the messaging industry standard, and has been adopted by both Google and Samsung. It’s used to send and receive images and video, and can call over WiFi. An Android can do this with an Android, and an iPhone can an iPhone via iMessage, but the streams can’t be crossed.

This causes some problems. Firstly, pictures and videos exchanged between the two operating systems will be degraded in quality. Messages between iPhones and Androids are also not encrypted, unlike WhatsApp messages or through iMessage.

Why didn’t this happen before?

Because Apple didn’t want to, basically. Apple like their customers using Apple-specific products and operating systems, but the European Union doesn’t. While not confirmed, the change likely comes after regulatory pressure from the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which requires major companies to make their products and services available to users on other platforms.

In September, the European Commission began investigating iMessage to decide whether it can be considered a “core platform service.” Before they made their decision, it’s likely Apple decided to beat them to it.

When will it drop?

The change will happen at some point in 2024, we’re just not exactly sure when.

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