Coming by way of iOS 18 this fall?

Apple shocked the world late final 12 months, asserting out of the blue (pun supposed) that it’ll convey RCS help to the iPhone. Finally, lastly, granting the want of Google, carriers, and a few diehard Android customers who nonetheless haven’t found out how you can chat with their iPhone buddies.

The RCS rollout wouldn’t be rapid, as Apple stated RCS help will likely be prepared in some unspecified time in the future this 12 months. It wouldn’t be Google’s model of RCS both, however the usual the GSMA permitted. That means it wouldn’t help encryption at first.

I stated not too long ago the transfer was sufficient to defeat Google’s PR marketing campaign towards iMessage. It additionally was an amazing transfer in anticipation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) deadlines in Europe and a looming antitrust investigation within the US.

Fast-forward to late March, and the DMA is in pressure in Europe. But iMessage isn’t a gatekeeper so Apple doesn’t need to make the app work with third-party chat apps in Europe. Meta should make WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger interoperable within the area.

Also, the Justice Department sued Apple, and the antitrust case covers Apple’s alleged use of iMessage to lock folks to the iPhone and its ecosystem.

While Apple nonetheless hasn’t introduced when RCS help is coming to the iPhone, Google might need inadvertently jumped the gun. Google stated that Apple will roll out RCS help within the fall of 2024, which might point out the characteristic will likely be a part of Apple’s upcoming iOS 18 replace.

Google has pulled the comment from its pages, however I feel it’s taking place. Apple should convey RCS help to the iPhone this 12 months and make a giant deal about it. It’s not simply concerning the DOJ’s antitrust case.

Google’s leak

It’s unclear why Google stated on its new RCS pages that RCS is “coming quickly on iOS.” Here’s what Google truly wrote, by way of 9to5Google:

Apple has introduced it is going to be adopting RCS within the fall of 2024. Once that occurs, it’ll imply a greater messaging expertise for everybody.

It might be a real mistake or an intentional one meant to considerably revive Google’s push for RCS help on the iPhone. But Apple has already confirmed RCS help is coming to the iPhone this 12 months. There’s no cause to attempt to stress Apple, particularly at this level.

Beeper Mini brings iMessage's blue bubbles to Android devices
Beeper Mini had iMessage engaged on Android briefly. Image supply: José Adorno for BGR

Whatever the case, Google has eliminated the comment from its pages, however not earlier than the web noticed it.

Google didn’t present a timeframe for the arrival of RCS on the iPhone. That fall of 2024 timeframe signifies that it’ll be a part of the iOS 18 launch, nonetheless. Then once more, Apple would possibly need to add RCS to older iOS variations, contemplating the stress from regulators and the DOJ’s antitrust case, of which iMessage is a part.

That’s as a result of not all of the iPhones that help iOS 17 will get the iOS 18 improve. Some older fashions may be left behind, because it occurs nearly yearly with new OS updates. But the Messages app will nonetheless work on these, full with iMessage and SMS/MMS help. There’s no cause to not have RCS in there.

The DOJ case and China

As we discovered not too long ago, laws in China associated to RCS help in cellular gadgets may be one of many huge components behind Apple’s determination to help RCS on the iPhone. The Chinese authorities began work on laws in that regard final 12 months.

Apple can’t afford any missteps in any of its largest markets. The European Union pressured Apple to convey USB-C to the iPhone quicker than it could have wished. China’s RCS regulation might need been the decisive think about adopting RCS this 12 months.

The arrival of the DMA laws and the potential of an antitrust case within the US might have been equally vital causes to undertake RCS.

Image showing the blue bubbles vs. green bubbles from Google's latest campaign against iMessages.
Image displaying the blue bubbles vs. inexperienced bubbles “downside” from Google’s marketing campaign towards iMessages. Image supply: Google

Speaking concerning the DOJ’s antitrust case, an Apple spokesperson addressed among the claims within the lawsuit, telling me why the corporate determined to help RCS at this cut-off date. The latest enhancements in RCS mixed with the broader consumer attain and the declining help for MMS from carriers are among the many causes Apple cited.

Apple additionally advised me it’s working with Google to enhance RCS, by constructing end-to-end encryption and creating instruments to forestall spam. Again, Apple won’t simply undertake Google’s end-to-end encrypted model of RCS. And RCS does have a spam downside in some markets that wants fixing there’s little question about it.

That additionally signifies that Google is conscious of a few of Apple’s RCS plans.

People neglect iMessage isn’t a normal

Apple didn’t present a launch timeframe for RCS, because the feedback primarily addressed the DOJ antitrust claims regarding iMessage.

As a reminder, the US authorities claims that iMessage offers the iPhone an unfair benefit over Android, reiterating among the factors we’ve stored listening to through the years concerning the blue and inexperienced bubbles and the way Apple is protecting potential switchers away from Android with iMessage.

As I defined repeatedly, many individuals, together with US authorities officers, are lacking the purpose after they discuss iMessage. iMessage isn’t a normal of communication that’s owed to Android customers. It’s a proprietary software Apple invented, which iPhone customers pay for by shopping for iPhones.

iOS 17 iMessage's new expandable menu
iOS 17 iMessage’s new expandable menu Image supply: José Adorno for BGR

However, it’s not necessary to make use of as there are many good options within the App Store. I may be an iPhone consumer, however I most likely use WhatsApp greater than iMessage to speak to household and buddies, lots of whom are iPhone customers.

It shouldn’t be as much as Apple to encrypt communication between iPhone and Android, which is a criticism from the antitrust go well with. Not that Apple can encrypt SMS even when it wished to.

Also, it’s lower than Apple to enhance the messaging expertise on Android as a result of that’s not a platform it controls. And it could actually’t enhance the standard of SMS texting.

Not to say that the blue vs. inexperienced bubble concern isn’t an actual factor wherever on the planet. You simply have to put in a third-party app like WhatsApp or Signal to get wealthy communication options protected by sturdy encryption.

WWDC is the place to make a giant deal about RCS

But contemplating all of the stress on Apple to justify itself, I feel it ought to make a giant deal about RCS adoption at WWDC 2024 when it inevitably declares upgrades for iMessage.

Apple advised me it’s at present working to allow the RCS Universal Profile which ought to enormously enhance messaging with non-iPhone customers. RCS on iPhone will help greater decision photographs and movies, extra dependable group messaging, location sharing, and audio messages.

The message right here is that Apple is already engaged on enhancing iPhone-to-Android messaging, which is among the antitrust issues of the govenrment.

FaceTime, iMessage, iOS 17
iOS 17 FaceTime and iMessage options introduced at WWDC 2023.

It might very properly show all these options throughout WWDC 2024 in June whereas additionally emphasizing that RCS, in its preliminary type, won’t be encrypted.

This public embrace of RCS ought to definitely work in Apple’s favor. And it ought to assist Apple when coping with regulators, whether or not it’s the DOJ, the EU, or China. On that be aware, RCS will doubtless roll out properly earlier than the DOJ’s antitrust case is over.

With all that in thoughts, I feel RCS help has to come back out this fall as a part of the principle iOS 18 push, similar to Google hinted by way of its unintended reveal. Will or not it’s prepared for iOS 18 or iOS 18.1? Hopefully, WWDC will reply that.

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