Apple announced today that it is adopting the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging standard. iPhone and Android users will be able to message using iMessage-style features “later next year” via a software update.
In addition to pressure from regulators, Apple is facing competition from Google and Samsung. RCS has also developed and matured as a platform in recent years.
During an interview with 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said RCS offers better cross-platform message interoperability.
The GSM Association will publish the RCS Universal Profile standard later next year. Compared to SMS or MMS, RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience. Apple users will continue to enjoy the best and most secure messaging experience with iMessage.
With RCS, you can send messages between iPhones and Android devices with features similar to those in iMessage. Among these are read receipts, typing indicators, high-quality images and videos, and more.
According to Apple, RCS will also allow users to share their location inside text threads. RCS can work over mobile data or Wi-Fi, unlike regular SMS.
However, iMessage won’t disappear anytime soon. iPhone users will continue to use it for all messaging. When available, RCS will replace SMS and MMS and exist separately from iMessage. Apple says SMS and MMS will also continue to be available as fallbacks.
Apple is not opening up iMessage to other platforms. It’s the company that is adopting RCS separately from iMessage. Additionally, Apple emphasizes the security and privacy benefits of iMessage over RCS. The Advanced Data Protection for Messages in iCloud enhances iMessage’s end-to-end encryption. According to Apple, RCS does not support encryption as strong as iMessage.