iOS 18 beta code is hiding new RCS messaging — here’s what it tells us

Google Messages on Android phone next to Messages app on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

RCS messaging is coming to iOS 18, but so far we know next to nothing about what Apple has planned — despite WWDC 2024 being the perfect opportunity to detail its plans. The iOS 18 developer beta doesn’t have active RCS messaging, but there apparently is some of the relevant code hiding under the surface of the Messages app. 

In fact, one person going by the name Dhinak G on X, claims to have been able to get that code running — activating some RCS messaging functionality on an iPhone. This was obviously never meant to be used, and isn't a finished product, but it does give us an idea of how the RCS/iMessage system will operate.

Features currently available include the basics, like delivery status, file sharing and group chats. However, a bunch of features apparently aren’t working right now, the most crucial of which is end-to-end encryption. That was one of the reasons Apple gave for holding out on RCS for so long.

Other missing features include broken replies, reactions and no read receipts in group chats. Needless to say, there’s definitely a reason why RCS is hidden away in the iOS 18 developer beta, and this isn’t indicative of how the final version of the feature will operate. 

RCS messages are expected to show up with green bubbles, and according to Dhinak G there’s a toggle in the settings to switch RCS messaging on and off. The messages also appear to be green, rather than iMessage blue, which is something Apple has already confirmed will continue.

Dhinak G also speculates that the system is running on Google’s Jibe servers, which is the same RCS profile used by Google Messages and other RCS messaging services. If that’s the case it should ensure interoperability between Google Messages and iMessage. 

However, we won’t know for sure until Apple activates RCS messaging in a future version of IOS 18. Presumably that’ll be available in the beta version first, but right now we don’t know anything about Apple’s rollout plans. 

The fact that there seems to be a very rough version of RCS hiding in the iOS 18 developer beta code does confirm Apple is working on it. But for now we just have to be patient and wait to see what happens. In the meantime, check out all of the new iMessage features coming in Apple's iOS 18 update. 

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.