Coming by way of iOS 18 this fall?

Apple shocked the world late final yr, asserting out of the blue (pun meant) that it’ll carry RCS assist to the iPhone. Finally, lastly, granting the want of Google, carriers, and a few diehard Android customers who nonetheless haven’t discovered how you can chat with their iPhone pals.

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

I mentioned just lately the transfer was sufficient to defeat Google’s PR marketing campaign towards iMessage. It additionally was an incredible 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 power in Europe. But iMessage isn’t a gatekeeper so Apple doesn’t should 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 assist is coming to the iPhone, Google may need inadvertently jumped the gun. Google mentioned that Apple will roll out RCS assist 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 occurring. Apple must carry RCS assist to the iPhone this yr and make an enormous deal about it. It’s not simply concerning the DOJ’s antitrust case.

Google’s leak

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

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

It could possibly be a real mistake or an intentional one meant to considerably revive Google’s push for RCS assist on the iPhone. But Apple has already confirmed RCS assist is coming to the iPhone this yr. There’s no cause to attempt to strain 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 may need to add RCS to older iOS variations, contemplating the strain 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 assist iOS 17 will get the iOS 18 improve. Some older fashions is perhaps 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 assist. There’s no cause to not have RCS in there.

The DOJ case and China

As we realized just lately, laws in China associated to RCS assist in cell units is perhaps one of many huge components behind Apple’s resolution to assist RCS on the iPhone. The Chinese authorities began work on laws in that regard final yr.

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

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

Image showing the blue bubbles vs. green bubbles from Google's latest campaign against iMessages.
Image exhibiting the blue bubbles vs. inexperienced bubbles “drawback” 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 assist RCS at this cut-off date. The latest enhancements in RCS mixed with the broader consumer attain and the declining assist 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 drawback 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 overlook iMessage isn’t a typical

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 provides the iPhone an unfair benefit over Android, reiterating among the factors we’ve stored listening to over time 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 typical 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 alternate options within the App Store. I is perhaps an iPhone consumer, however I most likely use WhatsApp greater than iMessage to speak to household and pals, 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 swimsuit. Not that Apple can encrypt SMS even when it needed to.

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

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

WWDC is the place to make an enormous deal about RCS

But contemplating all of the strain on Apple to justify itself, I feel it ought to make an enormous 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 assist greater decision pictures 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 without doubt one of the antitrust considerations of the govenrment.

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

It may very nicely 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 observe, RCS will possible roll out nicely earlier than the DOJ’s antitrust case is over.

With all that in thoughts, I feel RCS assist has to return out this fall as a part of the primary iOS 18 push, similar to Google hinted by way of its unintentional reveal. Will it’s prepared for iOS 18 or iOS 18.1? Hopefully, WWDC will reply that.

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