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iOS 18 RCS rollout coming in the fall to bridge Apple & Android messaging gap

RCS support will be added to the iPhone sometime in 2024

Apple is set to replace an aging texting protocol with a newer one to enhance compatibility with Android. Here's when it will roll out.

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is an upgrade to a smartphone's traditional text messaging system (SMS). It makes text messages more like iMessage with iOS 18.

The RCS messaging protocol supports features like seeing when someone is typing, sending high-quality images and videos, and knowing when messages are read. Unlike the old SMS, RCS can use Wi-Fi and cellular data, making it more versatile and user-friendly.

Apple's decision to adopt RCS comes after years of reluctance. In 2022, Apple CEO Tim Cook remarked that RCS was "not a priority" for the company.

However, increasing regulatory pressures and the need for better interoperability have influenced the shift. The European Union, for example, required Apple to open iMessage to other platforms, which accelerated Apple's decision to adopt RCS.

While RCS will improve cross-platform communication, it won't replace iMessage. Apple's iMessage will remain the primary messaging platform for iPhone-to-iPhone communication, retaining its blue bubbles. RCS messages, on the other hand, will appear as green bubbles, much like current SMS and MMS messages.

When will RCS roll out on iPhone

Apple said in its WWDC 2024 announcement on Monday that RCS support will be introduced in a software update later in the year.

However, it may not coincide with the initial release of iOS 18. Users might see RCS features become available in subsequent updates.