“I don’t hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy in on that at this point,” Cook said when asked how Apple founder Steve Jobs would feel about using the RCS standard in iMessage during Vox Media’s Code 2022 event on Wednesday night. Instead, Cook said, “I would love to convert you to an iPhone.”The Verge
The blue vs green chat bubble war rages on. Earlier this year on a VOX discussion panel, Tim Cook dismissed the idea of Apple’s iMessage adopting Rich Communication Sytems (RCS) stating that Apple users have not made any noise about it. Well, of course, they did not. iMessage IS RCS amongst iPhones.
And this is not the first time someone has asked about this. RCS support in iMessage has been asked for since the advent of RCS technology itself. Google has had enough and is tired of waiting. If the mountain won’t move to it then it will move to the mountain. Certain iMessage features are now being implemented into Google Messages through RCS.
What is RCS?
Remember MMS? Where you could send more in a text than just text? RCS builds on top of that and brings a majority of the features we are now used to having in chat apps like WhatsApp. GSMA states the following as the benefits of RCS to you and me:
Higher security level (compared to OTT apps)
In-app video and audio streaming
Attaching images of bigger size and better quality
Using emojis in conversation
Additional group chat features
Various in-call and post-call features for convenient and useful communication
Improved user interface. Powered by AI, the RCS solution interface studies user and community habits and introduces useful and needed features
Better user experience with fewer clicks to buy products or services. Via the native RCS messaging app, the full customer journey – browsing, placing orders, purchasing, delivery tracking – takes place seamlessly, accommodating the user’s every needGSMA
So not only is it MMS on steroids but it’s basically almost everything that iMessage is right now. Just a lot more interactive form of texting. Texting in the age of the internet. And to be clear RCS has been there for a while. It was part of the package of technologies that came in with 4G including VoLTE. All that was left is for MNOs and SMS apps to support it.
Google’s iMessage support
Google messages had enough of Apple resisting playing ball with everyone else. They actually released the funniest blog post when they announced the new features added to Messages that are compatible with iMessage. It’s really good banter between these two.
When people with Android phones and iPhones message each other, not everything works the way it should. That’s because these conversations rely on SMS, an outdated messaging standard, instead of RCS, a modern, more secure industry standard Android uses that enables high-quality videos, emoji reactions, end-to-end encryption and more.Google Blog Post
While our latest updates can’t fix everything about Android and iPhone conversations, here are a few ways we’re addressing some of the biggest issues we’ve heard from you.
So thanks to RCS it’s now possible for Android users to enjoy some iMessage-like features like interactive stickers, reactions to messages, and sharing high-quality videos. All in an SMS app. The kicker is that reactions applied to SMS messages sent from iPhones will show up in the sender’s iMessage chat and vice-versa. But if you thought this would also mean no more green vs blue message bubbles you are sadly mistaken. Apple still prefers showing you if the person on the other end stays inside the walled garden or out of it.
RCS made for businesses than for end users
RCS is essentially taking the benefits of the urgency of SMS and using it to the advantage of a business. The reaction time to hearing a chat app notification is longer than the reaction time to hearing an SMS. Especially if you are already expecting some critical news or money.
RCS business messaging is the future of texting. It offers a rich set of features that integrate seamlessly into the native SMS messaging app. The list includes payments, chatbots, HQ images and videos, group chats, and many popular features from WhatsApp and Telegram.GSMA
So instead of businesses figuring out solutions to market, sell, and reach customers on a plethora of platforms, RCS aims to bring all these business features to SMS. And the laundry list of business features that RCS wants to enable over SMS includes:
- making use of messaging apps that come on-device like Google’s Messages app
- Enable all features and functions that already exist on OTT services like catalogs and chatbots found in apps like WhatsApp
- take advantage of SMS urgency that sees 90% of messages being read within 3 minutes
- enable businesses to customize the way they are experienced by a customer by customizing the chat to the brand colors of the business as well as the brand logo
- Verification check marks for verified businesses
- availability of analytics via SMS. Data that includes the time when the message was opened, response time and a person’s reaction to the message is now possibles
- You can edit a sent SMS and do so in real-time
- ability to send clickable buttons which can be customized for polls, sliders, or multiple-choice forms.
RCS, just like VoLTE and iMessage is an internet-based service. All these fancy features will only work with an internet connection. It’s supported on 4G networks and up to MNOs to implement it and offer support for it to their subscribers. On 5G networks, it will be mandatory for MNOs to implement it.
In terms of devices, almost every smartphone supports RCS as long as there is an accompanying SMS app that is RCS capable. Speaking of SMS, an RCS-capable messaging app will be able to handle traditional SMS messages as well as RCS messages. However, feature phones will not be able to receive RCS messages.
And as for Apple and iMessage, their supporting RCS is wishful thinking for now. What we might see a lot of is messaging apps like Google Messages figuring out ways to take advantage of this RCS tech to reduce the difference in features between iOS and Android SMS to just the blue and green chat bubbles.