Google is smiling today, as Apple has announced plans to adopt the Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging standard. An Apple spokesperson told TechRadar and 9to5Mac that the company will offer support for RCS next year.
Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe the RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.
Apple says RCS will “work alongside iMessage” and will improve communication between iPhone and Android users. While iMessage will continue to be the default for iPhone-to-iPhone messaging, RCS will serve as a replacement for the existing SMS and MMS standards. SMS and MMS will still be available as a fallback when necessary.
Rich Communication Services is a communication protocol adopted by Google, smartphone makers, and carriers worldwide have adopted RCS, but Apple has resisted adopting it. Google has been pushing Apple to offer RCS via a long-running ad campaign.
RCS supports higher-resolution photos and videos, audio messages, and bigger file sizes, while also bringing improved encryption for chats between iPhone and Android users and more reliability for group chats across different device platforms. Likely more important to most users, it also allows for improved cross-platform emoji reactions.
Apple says that it will work with Google and other Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) members on further improving RCS. RCS support will debut via a software update in 2024, and carriers will be required to implement support for full functionality. In the United States, the big three cellular carriers – Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T – already support RCS.