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RCS comes to iPhone as carriers start to flip the switch

Published Jun 26th, 2024 4:34PM EDT
Siri gets an AI-powered upgrade in iOS 18.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The iPhone will support RCS this fall when iOS 18 rolls out officially, something Apple confirmed during the WWDC 2024 keynote earlier this month. That wasn’t a surprise to anyone following the RCS drama closely. Apple confirmed long ago that it would support RCS on the iPhone this year, thus ending the chat wars.

What was surprising was seeing RCS support get forcefully enabled in iOS 18 beta 1. Moreover, Apple rolled out iOS 18 beta 2 earlier this week, which supports RCS on iPhone without any hacks. There’s one problem that still remains: The carriers.

That’s right, your mobile operator has to make RCS available for iPhones working on its network. You can’t have RCS texting on your iPhone running iOS 18 beta 2 until your carrier does that. And it looks like US carriers are all flipping the switch.

The iOS 18 beta 1 “hack” that forced RCS support on iPhone showed that RCS only worked on AT&T and T-Mobile. iOS 18 beta 2 then brought a new setting that lets you turn on RCS Messaging on the iPhone. However, it still seemed like only AT&T and T-Mobile iPhones would get it.

It’s even worse for international iPhone users. I’m using iOS 18 beta 2 on my iPhone 14 Pro, but the RCS Messaging option isn’t available in Europe. My carrier has yet to enable the feature.

However, it looks like more carriers are getting on board. After all, carriers have previously joined Google in asking Apple to support RCS on the iPhone. As 9to5Mac notes, Verizon iPhones can also handle RCS texting in iOS 18 beta 2 in the US.

More international mobile operators will likely follow in the coming months. I’d expect more of them to turn on RCS support for iPhones in July when iOS 18 public beta 1 rolls out. More iPhone users will install the public beta once Apple makes it available.

That said, I’ll remind you that RCS texting on iPhone isn’t the same as RCS texting on Android. You don’t get end-to-end encryption because Apple supports the carrier standard, not Google’s RCS. But you get richer communication, including support for full media file sharing, typing indicators, and read receipts.

RCS messages will remain green, like SMS texts, however. Only iMessages are blue on iPhone. The Messages app will indicate in the type field whether you’re using iMessage, SMS, or RCS to talk to someone.

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.