Thursday, July 25, 2024

Texting between iPhones and Android devices will be better next year

Grain photos. Wi-Fi is not supported. The lingering doubt that someone actually saw your message.

Even in 2023, sending a text message from an iPhone to an Android device — and vice versa — feels great. But in a surprise move, Apple has agreed to switch by 2024.

On Thursday, Apple confirmed that it will build support for the Rich Communication Services Messaging Standard — otherwise known as “RCS” — into future software releases. That support will arrive “late next year,” a timeline that suggests it will be wrapped up in an upcoming version of the company’s iOS, usually released in September.

When that finally happens, iPhone owners and Android users will be able to share media like photos and videos in high-quality messages. They’ll see read receipts and typing indicators as their conversations unfold, and Apple says users will be able to share their locations within text threads.

It’s a welcome change for consumers on both sides of the iOS/Android divide, but Apple’s offering may appeal to another audience: lawmakers in Europe. For months, the European Commission has been trying to determine whether Apple’s iMessage is a big enough platform to be regulated by the EU’s digital markets law — which could force Apple to bring iMessage into line with competing messaging services.

Whatever the reason for its face, Apple is late to the party. Almost all popular news services have had those features for years. (Of course, that includes iMessage.) So, why the delay?

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The reason these features aren’t available to iPhone users texting with Android phones — and vice versa — is that they’re not possible under the decades-old technology standards that SMS (regular text messages) and MMS (or SMS) do. , multimedia messages) is possible.

Over the years, Apple has chosen to build out its iMessage service with new features, while relying on those aging formats to carry text messages and pictures to non-iPhones. As it happens, wireless carriers, device makers, and even Google have bought into the RCS standard and built the infrastructure to implement it.

Now, by embracing RCS, Apple is embracing a more consistent kind of messaging experience — one that should feel pretty similar no matter what kind of phone you’re using.

“We believe the RCS Universal Profile will provide a better interoperability experience compared to SMS or MMS,” the company said in a statement.

But none of this means Apple will offer RCS support like some of its competitors. Google went beyond the limits of the technology standard to add end-to-end encryption for RCS messages — meaning they are indecipherable to the companies and networks they travel from one phone to another — sent through its Google Messages. Processor.

Apple says it’s not something the company plans to do automatically; Instead, it wants to make the RCS standard more secure, which won’t happen immediately.

Apple’s announcement is unlikely to herald the end of the green-bubble-blue-bubble tension. iMessage isn’t going anywhere, and messages shared between Android devices and iPhones will be color-coded as they are now, the company says.

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RCS Messaging “will work hand in hand with iMessage to continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” the company’s statement said.

short Buying an iPhone As Tim Cook suggested to an advocate for RCS at a conference, Android users tired of the green bubble stigma should turn to outside players working to bring iMessage to Android — or wait to see if Europe persuades Apple to open the platform to everyone.

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