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iPhone support for RCS not currently in Apple’s plans for iMessage despite EU law

Updated Jan 3rd, 2023 4:03PM EST
iPhone 14 Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The European Union (EU) voted into law various bills that will force Apple to rethink its entire strategy around its big iPhone business. And the new legislation will impact all the iPhones Apple makes, not just the ones sold in the EU. For starters, the iPhone must get a USB-C port for charging. More importantly, the EU will force Apple to open up the iPhone to third-party app stores and make iMessage compatible with other chat apps, including RCS.

Short for Rich Communications Services, RCS replaces SMS texting and a standard that Google has embraced. But a new report says that Apple isn’t currently considering adopting RCS in iMessage.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is working on bringing support for third-party app stores to iPhone and iPad to conform to the new EU law.

However, Apple isn’t currently working on incorporating RCS support into iMessage:

[Apple] hasn’t, however, made a decision on how it may open iMessage and its Messages app to third-party services — another requirement of the Digital Markets Act [(DMA)]. Engineers believe that such a change could hurt end-to-end encryption and other privacy features offered by iMessage. The company also isn’t currently considering integrating RCS, or rich communication services, a messaging protocol that Google and others are pushing Apple to adopt.

Such a feature would bridge the gap between iPhone and Android for texting. Android users would not have to worry about being left out of the blue bubbles in those countries where this is a thing. In earnest, apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram can already do that.

But RCS on iPhone would mean Android users would no longer need an iMessage equivalent for their phones and tablets. They’ll get iMessage-like features via RCS.

The EU could fine Apple and force it to adopt RCS in the coming years. And Apple has plenty of time to decide on complying with the EU’s DMA. Maybe Bloomberg is wrong, and Apple is already working on RCS for iPhone. The EU might not be the only regulator to impose standards on tech companies with new legislation.

But even if Apple will bring RCS support to iMessage, there’s no telling when it’ll happen.

iMessage continues to be a massive competitive advantage for the iPhone. And every day iMessage remains exclusive to iPhone, Apple can gain new customers. That’s why Google is also trying to bully Apple to open iMessage to RCS. Apple’s text messaging system is a massive advantage for the iPhone.

While you wait to see what happens with RCS support on iPhone, you might want to check out this app that reportedly brings iMessage support to Android. Moreover, if you’re looking to move your mom from Android to iPhone, this guide should help you get the right iOS device for her.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.