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Apple will support RCS in 2024, but iMessage is going nowhere

Apple will adopt the RCS messaging standard in late 2024, the company has surprisingly revealed.

In news that’ll delight competitors like Google, which has long campaigned for Apple to adapt RCS to level the messaging playing field, Apple says the move will unlock better interoperability between iPhone and Android users.

In a statement, Apple said its adoption of the RCS Universal Profile (the same as on Android) will work along iMessage. Effectively, RCS is replacing the current SMS and MMS messaging deployed across platforms, but the iMessage Apple users know and love is going nowhere.

So, that means messages between iPhone and Android users should finally benefit from live typing indicators and read receipts, while finally enabling the sending and receiving of high resolution images and videos.

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iPhone-to-iPhone messaging will remain unaltered. Apple also says iMessage users will continue to benefit from better security than RCS provides, including full end-to-end encryption and the advanced data protection for iCloud messages.

In the statement (via 9to5Mac), Apple says: “Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe 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.”

It is a surprising change of heart from Apple on this issue, but the result should benefit users on both sides of the smartphone divide. RCS is more secure than SMS and MMS and this should finally end the green bubble, blue bubble wars and the two-tiered messaging system between iPhone and Android users.

Apple has faced constant pressure in recent years from the likes of Samsung and Google, while competition regulators are also looking into whether Apple’s reluctance to level the playing field is anticompetitive.

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