What It Will Be Like to Text With Android Users on iOS 18
What It Will Be Like to Text With Android Users on iOS 18

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Apple announced plenty of new iOS features during the company’s big WWDC 2024 keynote, from sweeping changes to Messages to a totally customizable Home Screen. But one announcement was simply thrown in without any fanfare on Apple’s part: RCS support.

Now, this wasn’t some bombshell new feature: Apple had already confirmed it would be bringing RCS support to iOS last year. Although the company never confirmed a specific timeline for the rollout, it seemed like iOS 18 would be the time for the company to official adopt the messaging protocol. As it happens, that speculation was correct.

RCS coming to iOS means a lot, but, namely, texting someone with an Android phone is going to be a lot easier. SMS, the current protocol iPhone to Android communications use, is outdated, and missing many of the features modern messaging protocols come standard with today. That includes high-resolution image and video sharing, functioning group chats, and typing indicators—not to mention end-to-end encryption. Instead, you get bad image quality, broken group chats, insecure messaging, and, of course, green bubbles.

Apple took a long time to adopt RCS, mainly because it was good business for them to make messaging the competition an objectively worse experience. But for a variety of reasons, not the least which being a host of world governments cracking down on anti-competitive behaviors, RCS is coming to iOS with iOS 18.

If you think that means the end of green bubbles, however, think again: Apple did show off one screenshot of RCS in action in its iOS 18 features list, and you might be forgiven at first glance for thinking it was a typical iPhone-to-Android chat:

Credit: Apple

Alas, this is RCS in iOS 18. You can tell because the image of the plants is actually visible, the Android user sent a voice memo, and, of course, the label on the text field reads “Text Message • RCS.”

It seems Apple decided to stick with green bubbles after all: It wants you to know you’re not texting an iPhone, even if it can no longer can make the experience that bad. Only time will tell if the “green bubble stigma” fades into obscurity: Will iPhone people judge Android users less now that texting them doesn’t suck? Or will they forever see the green bubble as a sign that texting this person is going to be a drag?

What’s more, will RCS support convince some iPhone users to switch to Android, knowing that their iPhone friends won’t have to deal with SMS anymore? That’s Apple’s nightmare, and likely why it’s advertising this feature as little as possible.

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