Google is stepping up the pressure on Apple to adopt RCS messaging, asking the Cupertino company to fix texting.
Apple’s iMessage is a feature-rich protocol that allows end-to-end encryption, group management, file-sharing, status indicators, and more, all of which go far beyond the capabilities of standard SMS or MMS. Unfortunately, when an iPhone user texts an Android user, the messages switch to SMS or MMS, with all their limitations.
The answer is the RCS protocol, a next-generation messaging protocol that brings iMessage-style features to Android texting. Google is once again asking Apple to adopt RCS for iPhone to Android messaging:
It’s not about the color of the bubbles. It’s the blurry videos, broken group chats, missing read receipts and typing indicators, no texting over Wi-Fi, and more. These problems exist because Apple refuses to adopt modern texting standards when people with iPhones and Android phones text each other.
Google even makes the case that Apple can implement this change without impacting iPhone to iPhone communication:
Apple turns texts between iPhones and Android phones into SMS and MMS, out-of-date technologies from the 90s and 00s. But Apple can adopt RCS—the modern industry standard—for these threads instead. Solving the problem without changing your iPhone to iPhone conversations and making messaging better for everyone.
It has been apparent for some time that Apple’s decision not to support RCS is a business decision, not a technical one. The company considered bringing iMessage to Android in 2013, with Eddie Cue pushing for the option, according to The Verge. Ultimately, Craig Federighi highlighted what the company had to lose:
I am concerned [that] iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.
While not quite the same as bringing iMessage to Android, supporting RCS for iPhone to Android communication would eliminate all the same pain points and could open all the same issues for Apple.
Nonetheless, for a company that prides itself on its pro-privacy stance, it’s getting harder and harder for Apple to seriously justify not supporting RCS. Doing so would help preserve the privacy of cross-platform communication rather than defaulting to decades-old technology that offers virtually no protection.
Similarly, supporting RCS would go a long way toward stopping the pressure — pressure that can border on bullying — that teens feel to own an iPhone, so their texts to friends don’t show up as green bubbles.
Then again, perhaps Apple is ok with less privacy and more bullying…as long as it drives customers to the company.