Apple adds RCS to iPhone with iOS 18, green bubble remains

Apple RCS iPhone iOS 18

Although presented as merely a footnote at WWDC 2024, Apple adding RCS support to its Messages app is a significant one, bridging the divide between iPhones and Android.

When Apple launches iOS 18 later this year alongside its Apple Intelligence AI features, it’ll introduce support for RCS, or Rich Communication Services. If you’re not familiar with RCS, it’s a messaging protocol that’s more secure and enables sharing higher quality photos and videos than SMS and MMS technology.

When an iPhone and an Android device message using the default messaging apps, an iPhone user will see their outgoing message appear in a green bubble. Meanwhile, messages between iPhones using iMessage appear in a shade of blue that’s become synonymous with Apple’s handset. Even the aesthetic difference has had a profound impact on device preference, particularly among younger users.

Aside from the green-versus-blue-bubble debate, there’s a tangible difference between sending messages across brand ecosystems. A green bubble on an iPhone has historically served as a warning sign of sorts that your message isn’t end-to-end encrypted, or that the other person will receive lower-quality media.

Apple surprised pundits last year when it announced support for RCS messaging. It committed to rolling out the protocol on iPhones by the end of 2024, which we now know will coincide with iOS 18.

Other than this commitment and a one-sentence mention in a press release, Apple hasn’t revealed many details about its implementation.

“When messaging contacts who do not have an Apple device, the Messages app now supports RCS for richer media and more reliable group messaging compared to SMS and MMS,” Apple’s press release read.

One thing is certain: the green bubble will remain. RCS messaging coming to Apple won’t be at the expense of its carefully curated iPhone ecosystem.

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