Goodbye to SMS on the iPhone in 2024

Google RCS Keynote Speach
Credit: Google Inc.

Great news for iPhone users worldwide. You can soon use RCS messages to talk to your Android friends. RCS messaging, which is a next-generation communication system, is coming to iOS later this year. After years of lobbying and mud-slinging from Google, Apple is finally taking steps to bring RCS capabilities to their devices.

What is RCS messages?

RCS (Rich Communication Service) is a communications protocol created by the industry association GSMA (GSM Association). The protocol was established to replace current SMS and MMS messaging with a protocol and system adapted for the modern age.

Why RCS?

RCS is a major upgrade to current messaging protocols that provides a number of advantages over previous technology. Firstly, RCS messages are end-to-end encrypted by default, support typing indicators, read receipts, threaded replies and high-quality media sharing. This is a leap forward from MMS/SMS as that standard restricts photo quality and doesn’t support most of those features.

Why does this matter to you?

Well, if you’re sick of messaging someone with the dreaded green bubble because, unfortunately, that is unlikely to be over. That said, messaging with the green bubbles (non-iPhone users) from an iPhone could be much more pleasurable. For one, seeing replies, reactions and typing indicators will make sending messages more pleasurable. Also, the age of the SMS will likely pose security issues for all platforms, so moving to RCS is a desirable move.

What will RCS on iPhone look like?

We haven’t heard anything yet about any substantive changes to iMessage in accommodating RCS as a platform, including whether the green bubbles are/will become blue bubbles. That said, we’re not expecting Apple to suddenly abandon a two-tier message bubble indication, as it is largely regarded as a status symbol which favours Apple users.

When will it be enabled on iOS devices?

According to reports from Pocket Lint, Apple is expected to bring it to iOS devices in 2024. This is a response to increased pressures from EU rulings that messaging Apps need to work better together, as cited in the “Digital Markets Act,” which defines iMessage as a “platform.” We will have more coverage as Apple rolls out this new integration.

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