The longstanding debate surrounding the distinctive blue text bubbles of iOS and green ones of Android is set to take a more amicable turn.
Apple revealed plans on Thursday to embrace a messaging standard that will extend iMessage features to Android users, potentially breaking down a perceived barrier within Apple’s closed ecosystem.
As reported by tech site 9to5Mac, this shift will introduce features like read receipts, typing indicators, enhanced support for group chats, and improved quality for sharing images and videos across platforms. According to a statement provided to CNN by Apple, support for this standard, known as RCS (Rich Communication Services), will be integrated next year. RCS is viewed as a successor to alternatives like SMS (short messaging service) and functions over both Wi-Fi and mobile data.
Most secure messaging experience for Apple users
“We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS,” Apple stated. “This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”
This development comes in response to pressure from regulators and competitors urging more seamless interoperability across operating systems. The European Union’s Digital Markets Act mandates companies to ensure key services are interoperable between platforms. The EU initiated an investigation earlier this year to determine if iMessage qualifies as a core product. Additionally, Google, which already supports RCS in its messaging app, has advocated for Apple to adopt the standard. In November, Google sent a letter to the European Commission arguing that iMessage is a core Apple product and should be compelled to adhere to standards.
Google issued a statement welcoming Apple’s step towards embracing RCS, expressing the importance of modern and secure communication across different devices. The statement also highlighted their collaboration with the mobile industry to advance RCS adoption and their anticipation of working with the Company to implement it on iOS in a manner beneficial for all users.
Take control of the narrative and leverage it to its advantage
Over the years, the Company has resisted such cross-platform connectivity. When asked about Steve Jobs’ perspective on cross-platform communication, CEO Tim Cook mentioned last year during a conference that he didn’t sense a strong demand from users for Apple to invest significant energy in that direction. In response to an audience member’s difficulty in sharing certain videos with his non-iPhone-using mother, Cook’s suggestion was, “Buy your mom an iPhone.”
This shift also comes nearly two months after the company’s announcement that its next-generation iPhone 15 would feature a USB-C universal charging system for the first time. The change occurred less than a year after the European Union approved legislation mandating that smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, portable speakers, and other small devices must support USB-C charging by 2024.
Dipanjan Chatterjee, a VP principal analyst at Forrester Research, notes that both the adoption of USB-C for the new iPhones and the support for RCS messaging reflect Apple’s proactive response to potential European Union regulations. This approach allows Apple to take control of the narrative and leverage it to its advantage.