Google says RCS messaging is coming to the iPhone this fall

iMessage app on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Last year, Apple surprised everyone by revealing that it would start supporting the Rich Communications Services (RCS) standards on iPhones in 2024.

Beyond that vague 12-month window, no specific date was given, but now we have a better idea of when the update may arrive thanks to the main beneficiary of the move: Google.

The Android maker has created a new landing page for Google Messages extolling the virtues of its first-party messaging app, and 9to5Google has spotted an interesting tidbit buried in the RCS benefits section.  

A screenshot of the Google Messages landing page.

(Image credit: Google)

“Apple has announced it will be adopting RCS in the fall of 2024,” the page reads. “Once that happens, it will mean a better messaging experience for everyone.”

Whether that’s an educated guess on Google’s part or some kind of insider information, it makes sense. Fall runs from September 22 to December 21, and it’s widely expected that Apple will make RCS integration part of iOS 18, which will launch alongside the iPhone 16 in September. 

That said, the fact that fall stretches all the way to December gives some wiggle room for RCS to be implemented in an update, rather than being in the 18.0 release.

Exactly how RCS will be implemented remains to be seen, though it’s already been confirmed that the green/blue bubble divide is set to remain

Nonetheless, RCS support should make communication between iPhone and Android users significantly more usable. Currently, it’s a bit of a mess, with Android messages getting distorted before they arrive on iPhone. Media files are horribly compressed, emoji reactions appear as text and there’s no indication that users are typing.

It’s probably unrealistic for our entire iPhone RCS wishlist to be implemented. Apple is well aware that iMessage’s refusal to play nice with Android has proved an effective way of keeping iPhone customers loyal. “I am concerned the iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones,” Apple’s Craig Federighi is quoted as saying in a 2013 email.

Indeed, the company has been quite aggressive at ensuring iMessage isn’t replicated on Android. When Beeper Mini offered iMessage compatibility via an Android app, Apple quickly closed all the loopholes preventing the app from functioning in a matter of weeks.

Hopefully we’ll be pleasantly surprised, and RCS messaging on iPhone will fix all the bugbears users have, and put an end to the green bubble ick memes that have done the rounds for years. We’ll find out before the year is out.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.