RCS is still half-baked, and Apple has no reason to adopt it

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 10
In June, Google posted a video about how RCS can bridge the messaging gap between iOS and Android, and it amped up efforts and escalated the effort on Tuesday. But, Apple doesn't need RCS, or at least the half-baked version it is today.

RCS messaging
RCS messaging


Google's "unofficial lyric explainer" video explains that "Texts Go Green" refers to the phenomenon when an iPhone user gets blocked, or tries to text an Android user. A sarcastic message at the end of the video says that it is a problem Apple can fix by adopting Rich Communication Services) RCS.

Green bubbles have long been part of the Apple community. Inside the default Messages app, blue chat bubbles mean an iPhone-to-iPhone conversation. When an iPhone user texts an Android user the chat bubbles are green.

It's become a meme over the years, and Google claimed in January 2022 that Apple uses these different colors to bully Android users.

Those green chats are SMS messages and there is a real social effect since SMS doesn't support rich iMessage's features. Some, like message reactions, get broken if an Android user is in a group chat with an iPhone user.

An iPhone user can long-press a chat to give it a heart, thumbs up, or a different reaction. The Android user sees a text version of the emoji instead of a graphical representation: "[User] loved [text message]."

Google did roll out support for these features in 2021, but still claims green bubbles can be solved with RCS.

Rich Communication Services

RCS is a messaging protocol designed as the successor to the older SMS and MMS protocols. It supports iMessage-like features in all texting.

Green bubble
Green bubble


Formed in 2007 it was brought into the GSM Association where it was slowly refined. Features were added over the years, such as group chat, file transfer, visual voice mail, and even chatbots in 2017.

In 2018 Google announced it was working with major carriers to adopt RCS. Verizon rolled out support starting in 2022, while the other carriers supported it earlier.

Read receipts, group messages, encryption, stickers, and more are all features that iPhone users enjoy. RCS would bring those features to Android phones and is just waiting for Apple.

But the rollout of RCS has been messy. Not all carriers and devices support the protocol and it can be implemented in different ways, such as encryption.

Unlike iMessage, end-to-end encryption is not built-in to RCS. Carriers and companies can add such encryption if they choose. Google added support for this encryption in 2020 but only for one-on-one conversations.

Messaging apps
Messaging apps


Like SMS, RCS relies on an active phone number. Texting gets tied to a cellular bill and can vanish if a payment is missed or because of other cellular network chicanery.

In iMessage, chats can be sent from a phone number or email address associated with an Apple ID. A SIM card isn't required for conversations with other Apple users.

Google offers RCS communication in its Android Messages app as the default. No matter how many messaging apps Google goes through, Android users can have those rich features as long as Google supports RCS.

The tech giant is infamous for abandoning products. Dozens of hardware, software, and services have fallen by the wayside over the years. RCS can't rely on Google if the goal is to replace SMS.

Apple doesn't need RCS

People with iPhones aren't going to stop texting their Android friends just because a green bubble appears. And, the iMessage stigma is only in the United States. Internationally, alternatives have a much higher adoption rate.

If a shared experience with features that everyone can enjoy is desired, third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are there to fill the gap.

These apps support rich features that both ecosystems can enjoy because they're using the same app. These apps use neither iMessage nor SMS, making them universal. Only an internet connection is required.

Texting on a smartphone
Texting on a smartphone


Apple probably didn't create iMessage as a way to lock people into iOS at the start, but the platform has certainly grown that way. It's effectively a social network, one that Apple can upgrade without waiting on industry associations and carriers.

Apple has shown no interest in releasing an iMessage app for Android either. In the past it was revealed that Apple executives said that an Android version is possible, but would "hurt us more than help us."

Encryption and other enhanced features are advantages that RCS has over SMS, but for now, it seems the only way Apple is going to support it is if SMS went away entirely.

RCS doesn't fix anything for iPhone owners that can't already be solved. The protocol had a better chance of replacing SMS if implementation started in 2007 around the iPhone's release.

For now, RCS is merely an alternative and not yet a standard. Despite adoption by some carriers and some companies, it is too little, too late unless Google makes significant changes and improvements.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,123member
    Plus like so many past Google communication initiatives, there's a good chance they'll abandon it.
    williamlondonAndy.Hardwakejony0watto_cobraomasouJP234macxpresslolliverBart Ymagman1979
  • Reply 2 of 50
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Apple isn’t sitting around watching in the audience. I bet they’re working on something great.
    magman1979jony0watto_cobraJP234Bart Y
  • Reply 3 of 50
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,004member
    "My text shows up as green bubbles on your iPhone! We need a law to stop texting monopolies like Apple from doing that! It's so demeaning! I should be allowed to be referred to in the pronoun colour of my choice! Not letting me choose my own colour is racist!"
    BeatsJapheywatto_cobrasbduderadarthekat
  • Reply 4 of 50
    ransonranson Posts: 44member
    "[RCS] is too little, too late unless Google makes significant changes and improvements"

    Andrew, I appreciate the article, but i'm curious about this statement. What significant changes to RCS should Google make? You don't bother to elaborate on any of that in the article. You mentioned that RCS doesn't support e2ee out of the box, but Google has already added it for one-on-one messages while groups are still in the clear. Is there anything else?
    williamlondonctt_zhbonobobgatorguywatto_cobralkrupp
  • Reply 5 of 50
    "My text shows up as green bubbles on your iPhone! We need a law to stop texting monopolies like Apple from doing that! It's so demeaning! I should be allowed to be referred to in the pronoun colour of my choice! Not letting me choose my own colour is racist!"
    Good One! You forgot to add the /s at the end for satire. No one has taken the bait yet. 
    iOS_Guy80watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 50
    DangDave said:
    "My text shows up as green bubbles on your iPhone! We need a law to stop texting monopolies like Apple from doing that! It's so demeaning! I should be allowed to be referred to in the pronoun colour of my choice! Not letting me choose my own colour is racist!"
    Good One! You forgot to add the /s at the end for satire. No one has taken the bait yet. 
    Except for slipping in a dig at people that don’t want to be misgendered. The issues aren’t the same, and the slight is inappropriate.

    @Ranson and @Bossbaby - If you look back at some of DangDave’s comments, you’ll see a lot of good information on how and why RCS still has issues. 
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 50
    RCS is here to stay and this time Google is on the right path. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 50
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,488administrator
    RCS is here to stay and this time Google is on the right path. 
    Sure, just like they thought they were with the nine other messaging services that they launched and killed.
    williamlondonmagman1979jony0watto_cobrasphericDAalsethdanoxtechconclolliverBart Y
  • Reply 9 of 50
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 430member
    bossbaby said:
    And the pathetic iMessage still dont have automatic spam filter. I really wish I could install Google message on my iPhone. The most annoying, I kept receiving spam Imessage from random emails. I both have iphone and Android and nope, RCS is not half baked. I use both and rcs has more feature than iMessage imho. Imessage doesnt have enough user base, atleast, outside america. 
    All my friends, with a few exceptions, use iPhones so RCS is of no value to me. I like the colored bubbles telling me who is using what type of phone. It's petty, but also hard to not think those with green bubble are not the "cool kids".
    Andy.Hardwakewilliamlondonmagman1979danoxwatto_cobralolliverBart YMplsP
  • Reply 10 of 50
    DangDaveDangDave Posts: 87member
    Here is a link that has some history on RCS, but doesn’t tell the whole story:

    https://www.magicbell.com/blog/what-is-rcs-messaging

    Unfortunately, even though the three major carriers in the US have adopted it for Android phones, they are still trying to monetize it and RCS still only works within each carrier. It appears that each carrier has to partner with Google and I doubt that it is free. This is what I found on AT&T:

    • How much does Advanced Messaging cost?
      Standard MMS and SMS rates apply based on your current AT&T rate plan. If you are on a plan that includes an unlimited number of texts, you will not incur any additional charges when you use Advanced Messaging.For capped Messaging plans or Pay-Per-Use customers, you will also be billed at your current messaging rates. But please note, if you send a message with multiple attachments with Advanced Messaging, each file you attach as well as your text will be counted and billed as individual messages.For example, if you type a text message and attach 2 photos, those would count as 3 separate messages (1 SMS and 2 MMS) for billing purposes. Files can be photos, videos, contacts, calendar items, or anything else you attach to your text message.
    Andy.Hardwakefreeassociate2watto_cobradanoxBart Ymaximara
  • Reply 11 of 50
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,262member
    bossbaby said:
    And the pathetic iMessage still dont have automatic spam filter. I really wish I could install Google message on my iPhone. The most annoying, I kept receiving spam Imessage from random emails. I both have iphone and Android and nope, RCS is not half baked. I use both and rcs has more feature than iMessage imho. Imessage doesnt have enough user base, atleast, outside america. 
    Oh look, a new troll born every article...
    watto_cobralolliverBart Ylkruppericthehalfbee
  • Reply 12 of 50
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,068member
    Hardly half baked does exactly what Google wants it to do keep them in the loop about you, so that they can sell you to the highest bidder.
    watto_cobraBart Ymagman1979
  • Reply 13 of 50
    Claims of bullying are getting worrisome - in particular, youth cohorts are experiencing mass bullying over green bubbles. Apple is culpable. If they're not going to adopt RCS they need to at least make some changes to iMessage to stop children from having such a visceral thing to respond to.
    derekmorr
  • Reply 14 of 50
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,068member
    Claims of bullying are getting worrisome - in particular, youth cohorts are experiencing mass bullying over green bubbles. Apple is culpable. If they're not going to adopt RCS they need to at least make some changes to iMessage to stop children from having such a visceral thing to respond to.
    Some people will find a way to bully no matter what, look! the neighbor across street has a better car/house/dog, they should hide it cause some other neighbors who have less will feel bad about it. No…..Apple should continue on as is.
    jony0watto_cobramike1lolliverBart Yurahara
  • Reply 15 of 50
    DangDave said:
    Here is a link that has some history on RCS, but doesn’t tell the whole story:

    https://www.magicbell.com/blog/what-is-rcs-messaging

    Unfortunately, even though the three major carriers in the US have adopted it for Android phones, they are still trying to monetize it and RCS still only works within each carrier. It appears that each carrier has to partner with Google and I doubt that it is free. This is what I found on AT&T:

    • How much does Advanced Messaging cost?

      Standard MMS and SMS rates apply based on your current AT&T rate plan. If you are on a plan that includes an unlimited number of texts, you will not incur any additional charges when you use Advanced Messaging.

      For capped Messaging plans or Pay-Per-Use customers, you will also be billed at your current messaging rates. But please note, if you send a message with multiple attachments with Advanced Messaging, each file you attach as well as your text will be counted and billed as individual messages.

      For example, if you type a text message and attach 2 photos, those would count as 3 separate messages (1 SMS and 2 MMS) for billing purposes. Files can be photos, videos, contacts, calendar items, or anything else you attach to your text message.

    This is inaccurate outdated info. Had you actually bothered to properly look into it, you would have realized that the major carriers have already adopted the Universal Profile of RCS which allows for customers to use RCS between carriers. This happened because Google eventually began bypassing carriers through it's Google Messages app. The carriers wanted to handle the messaging, and carriers can decide whether they handle RCS or to pet Google continue doing it. 

    Most information that carriers have on "Advanced Messaging" has to do with an RCS standard that wasn't using the Universal Profile, which was years ago.
    muthuk_vanalingamgatorguyderekmorrgeorgeg
  • Reply 16 of 50
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,068member
    Several one poster Google workers posting……. 
    watto_cobraentropyslolliverBart Ysconosciutolkrupp
  • Reply 17 of 50
    danox said:
    Claims of bullying are getting worrisome - in particular, youth cohorts are experiencing mass bullying over green bubbles. Apple is culpable. If they're not going to adopt RCS they need to at least make some changes to iMessage to stop children from having such a visceral thing to respond to.
    Some people will find a way to bully no matter what, look! the neighbor across street has a better car/house/dog, they should hide it cause some other neighbors who have less will feel bad about it. No…..Apple should continue on as is.
    Cyber bullying is much more pervasive in the age of smartphones and social media. Any technology that leans into it for the sake of platform adoption is pretty heinous. This is one of the reasons the EU is working towards legislation that may make this entire discussion moot.

    Apple could do something as simple as using a more subtle visual indicator in iMessage than an entirely different bubble color. At this point they are complicit in an enormous amount of childhood trauma.

    (FYI this is coming from someone who does use Apple products - they are far from the only company that isn't doing enough to address this problem, but this article came across my feed organically and I feel like a lot of people don't understand just how harmful/backwards iMessage is in its current form.)
    edited June 25
  • Reply 18 of 50
    we all have been conditioned to rely on visual responses through social medias like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok — we see something shared online and we unconsciously or habitually tap on Like, ❤️, or 👍🏽; and on the other side we become anxious that we do not see any Like, ❤️, or 👍🏽. we have allowed ourselves to be "controlled" by these things to the end where we feel ignored, neglected, rejected, unfriended, or canceled because no one has given us a Like, ❤️, or 👍🏽.

    in the world of iMessage and SMS, we feel all of the above when we do not see the blue bubble. have we all become insecure? of course, we have, and i have fallen into that rabbit hole too. it is liberating to be able to walk away from those social media responses or reactions icons, and not even have a bit of concern if my Followers count dropped!

    folks, let it go. this is so insignificant.

    besides, Google has demonstrated that it could not reliably commit to something, instead, it would unexpectedly abandon it and grab something else to play with. Google's short attention span is not good for keeping people committed to a product or service.
    watto_cobraBart Yigorsky
  • Reply 19 of 50
    If there is any issue about which I care less than what color someone's texts are, I can't think of it right now.  A green text does tell me that I shouldn't expect the person with whom I'm messaging won't see certain things, so I can avoid using those features, but other than that, who gives a shjt?

    As for "bullying" over green bubbles versus blue, I'm sorry, but I fail to see how Apple is to blame for the vile behavior of a user of a messaging app.  Address the bullies.
    watto_cobraentropyslolliverBart YwilliamlondonroundaboutnowMplsP
  • Reply 20 of 50
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,399member
    If there is any issue about which I care less than what color someone's texts are, I can't think of it right now.  A green text does tell me that I shouldn't expect the person with whom I'm messaging won't see certain things, so I can avoid using those features, but other than that, who gives a shjt?

    As for "bullying" over green bubbles versus blue, I'm sorry, but I fail to see how Apple is to blame for the vile behavior of a user of a messaging app.  Address the bullies.
    Perhaps because what you would expect to be a private conversation may not be private after all due to Apple relying on SMS rather than fully-encrypted RCS when communicating cross-platform, or in any other rare situations where iMessage may fail even between two iPhone users. There is no downside to you having RCS as the backup messaging option instead of the old, insecure, and less private SMS. 
    muthuk_vanalingamjcs2305vvk1
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