Apple recently announced that it will begin to support RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging for iPhones beginning in 2024.
The move is a surprise to many insiders and is seen as a rare example of Apple giving in to public sentiment.
What this means to the layman is relatively simple… iPhone users who text with Android users (and vice versa) will be able to participate in group texts, share pictures and videos, and have messaging security that Short Messaging Services (SMS) can’t provide.
The history is that Apple has always used iMessage for messaging between Apple devices.
However, messaging outside of Apple devices, say to a person with an Android phone, piggyback on the cellular service’s SMS protocol.
iPhone users see blue bubbles when messaging with other iPhone users, and green bubbles when messaging with non-Apple users.
Google and many of the other Android phone makers have embraced a new protocol called RCS that provides similar functionality to iMessage.
But Apple has been stubborn about shifting to the new protocol perhaps believing that embracing something that it doesn’t control completely, and helps make it easier for people without iPhones will cut away at its market share.
Google and other phone makers began a campaign that they called the “Green Bubble Campaign” to get Apple to change its mind.
iPhones are used by roughly 60% of Americans, but internationally 70% of users are on Android.
And this, more than public preference, is likely responsible for the shift in Apple’s strategy as the EU is eyeing several potential lawsuits against Apple’s closed system.
The expectations of users have moved beyond the capabilities of SMS messaging… and people expect encryption in their texts as well as the ability to send group texts with photos and videos, regardless of the type of phone being used.
Stubborn Apple is saving a modicum of its dignity, however, as it will continue to use the green bubbles for any RCS messages.