I love Apple, but iMessage and RCS are completely wrong

iMessage on iPhone.
Greg Mombert / Digital Trends

I’ve been using iPhones since 2008, starting with the original and then every generation since. For several years, the iPhone was only capable of sending SMS, with MMS support coming with iOS 3 in 2009.

But in 2011, Apple created something new: iMessage. It first came to iOS and then came to Mac in 2012 to replace iChat. iMessage is basically an instant messaging service exclusive to all Apple products: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. You can send text, images and videos, documents, rich preview links, stickers and more between each other. You can also see if a message was delivered, send a read receipt (if you want), and everything is encrypted. With iOS 16, you can even edit and unsend messages within a certain time period.

iMessage is also used to send text messages and multimedia messages to non-iMessage users — aka Android phones. However, most of the iMessage functionality you get with other iMessage users is impossible due to older SMS/MMS protocols. But Android phones have turned to rich communications services (RCS) for messaging, and Google has repeatedly tried to embarrass and encourage Apple to open up iMessage to support it. His latest efforts include involving regulators.

While it may seem like only Google and Android fans are pushing Apple to support RCS, as a diehard iPhone user, I honestly want to see RCS come to the iPhone. Let me explain why.

Green bubble of shame

iMessage displays green chat with Android users.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I consider myself a bit of an introvert, and I sometimes find group chats tiring. I don’t constantly have a lot of group chats on my phone iPhone 15 Pro, but I did some group chats with my immediate family. My mother and sister use iPhones, but my sister uses an Android phone. So, in our group chat, he was the weird one with the green bubble.

With iMessage-only group chats, you can leave if you get bored with endless notifications and conversations. I often felt overwhelmed by my siblings’ bickering, and I really wished I could escape the chatter. But because my sister uses an Android phone, I can’t do that. I’ve permanently disabled notifications on that group conversation because I don’t want to be bombarded every day.

Another annoying aspect I have to deal with because my sister doesn’t use an iPhone is the fact that I can’t send long videos to everyone in a group chat. I take lots of photos and videos of my daughter to share with my family, and often, I just want to send them via iMessage. But if I did it in a group chat with my sisters, it would be compressed and pixelated to the point of being unwatchable. The same thing happened when he sent a video of his dog. To avoid this hassle, I end up using one of those apps where multiple people can upload and view photos and videos when I want to share my daughter’s antics.

This may only be a minor inconvenience, but it really makes me wish Apple would get on board with RCS.

What exactly is RCS?

Android smartphones feature Google RCS.

There are lots of them the history and context behind RCS and how it has (slowly) evolved into a replacement for the SMS standard. With Google’s efforts with carriers to adopt RCS, the result was “Chat,” which is a protocol based on the RCS Universal Profile. It is a global standard for implementing RCS across carriers and countries allowing everyone to communicate with each other.

Chat is available in two apps: Google Messages and Samsung Messages. As limited as it sounds, most Android phones come with Google’s Messages app pre-installed. It’s basically like iMessage, where you can send messages and high-resolution photos and videos to each other. It also supports typing status, read receipts, delivery status, tapback, and more. For those concerned about security, Google has enabled end-to-end encryption for RCS messages, giving it an advantage over SMS.

It may not offer all the features Apple currently has for iMessage, like editing and unsending messages, but it has evolved over time — just at a slower pace.

It’s time for Apple’s iMessage to open

iMessage on iPhone 14 Pro Max, plus iMessage on Android phones using the Beeper app.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Although Google has made many efforts to encourage Apple to adopt RCS, Apple still leaves Google in the “read” state. Apple feels like most of its customer base doesn’t care about RCS, and while that may be true, there are some of us who do care and would like to see RCS adopted in iMessage.

Personally, the biggest reason I wanted to adopt RCS was so I could send high-resolution photos and videos in group chats without having to rely on other apps or services. I also like knowing that my message was actually sent or that I got a response. It would also be great if I could leave a group chat if I wanted rather than being forced to stay in it like I am now.

RCS, despite its slow growth and adoption as a replacement for SMS, has a lot of potential. I think it would be awesome to implement in iMessage, even if it’s just the ability to send high-res media. Why am I still seeing pixelated videos in 2023? Why is texting still so complicated? I wouldn’t have to keep asking these questions if Apple would swallow its pride and stop being stingy with iMessage.

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