Apple is doing something many (including yours truly) thought it would never do, with plans to bring RCS support to the iPhone.
RCS is the successor to SMS and offers many of the features found in Apple’s iMessage. While iMessage is used for iPhone > iPhone communication, iPhones currently fall back to SMS for iPhone > Android texts. Unfortunately, this means those chats not only lack the features that iMessage provides, but they are also unencrypted and insecure since SMS has no encryption support.
Apple has pushed back against calls to use RCS instead of SMS as its fallback option, but the company is now doing an about face. In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple confirmed it plans to roll out RCS support later in 2024:
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’s believed Apple is making the change in an effort to head off regulation. The EU recently passed the Digital Markets Act, which requires gatekeeper services to work with rivals. After months of trying to publicly pressure Apple to adopt RCS, Google has taken its case to the EU, asking the bloc to force Apple’s hand. Apple is clearly interested in voluntarily adopting the tech on its terms, rather than being forced to.
As the outlet points out, Apple still has no intention of replacing iMessage, but at least users will have a much better experience when communicating between iPhone and Android.