One of the greatest debates surrounding the iPhone is the chatter around green bubbles vs blue bubbles. Over the years, Apple has built a wall around the iPhone and its ecosystem, forcing everyone inside to stay within its confines. At the same time, Apple continues to lure outsiders with the benefits one enjoys within the walled garden. One of the many such benefits is iMessage and the concept of blue bubbles, especially in the US. For years, Apple has used the blue bubble exclusivity for iMessage users as a means to keep people from switching to Android or any other platform. After tremendous pressure from rivals, however, the blue bubble exclusivity of iMessage is about to be broken with RCS messaging on iPhones.
In a surprise announcement, Apple has confirmed plans to bring support for RCS to the iPhone. RCS is a huge upgrade from long-established SMS and MMS that iPhones have been stuck on. The new standard has been present on Android for years and is considered to be one of the key aspects that can solve this blue bubble disparity once and for all.
But Apple being Apple, there are several loopholes and those rooting for iMessage’s universal availability might still be disappointed. Want to know why? Read on.
iOS to get RCS: What does this signify?
RCS, or Rich Communication Services, was a standard meant to improve the dated SMS and MMS standards. Introduced in 2007 and widely adopted as the new Universal Profile in 2008 by the GSM Association, RCS has offered a richer way of communicating. Messaging services based on RCS can allow instant messaging, file sharing, read receipts, emoji reactions, video messages and more. It makes the standard messaging app on your smartphone as advanced as WhatsApp.
All Android smartphones with Google’s Messages app already feature RCS as the default standard to communicate.
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Will RCS bring iMessage to Android phones?
No, not at all.
Despite the inclusion of RCS in iOS, iMessage will continue to be an exclusive Apple service reserved for iPhone, iPad and Mac users.
Here’s a quick look at the statement that Apple shared with 9To5Mac.
“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.”
That’s the key – iMessage will continue to be present alongside RCS messaging. As such, despite Apple allowing iMessage-like features for conversations with non-iOS users, it may continue to use the green bubble for depicting texts from Android users.
With RCS in place, iPhone users will now be able to see read receipts and typing indicators, send high-quality images and videos and share location data. Unlike SMS and MMS, RCS will also allow iPhone users to send texts to Android users by simply using mobile data or Wi-Fi.
That said, the concept of blue bubble texts could still be reserved for iMessage users as a means to differentiate them from Android users and maintain the underlying discrimination that exists in the US, thereby giving Apple a huge advantage. And by the time Apple updates iOS with RCS messaging, iMessage could offer advanced features to further lock in and lure people to iMessage. Apple continues to stand by iMessage, assuring users that its texting service is far more secure and feature-rich than the RCS standard.
So, in conclusion, while it seems like Apple has given in to the demand of incorporating RCS into iOS devices, undoubtedly motivated by the advertisement campaigns from its arch-rival Google, the green bubble isn’t going anywhere. iMessage will exist and may find new ways to keep iPhone users from switching.
(Hero and Featured Image Credits: Courtesy Miquel Parera via Unsplash)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– Is RCS messaging coming to iPhone?
Yes, Apple has confirmed plans to bring RCS messaging to the iPhone in 2024 via a software update.
– When will the iPhone get the RCS messaging update?
Apple will release support for RCS messaging on iPhones in 2024 via a software update.