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This is our first look at RCS texting on iPhone in iOS 18

Published Jun 17th, 2024 1:58PM EDT
New Messages and Mail features in iOS 18.
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple confirmed during the WWDC 2024 main keynote what many people had suspected: iOS 18 will bring official RCS support to the iPhone. Many Android users have wanted this feature for years, which is why Google and other rivals have been running massive ad campaigns against Apple.

Apple didn’t say when it’ll enable RCS on iPhone. Most people running iOS 18 beta 1 did not see RCS support in the Messages app. I installed iOS 18 as soon as it came out, and my text messages to non-iPhone users are still marked as SMS. Interestingly, however, some users have found a way to enable RCS support on iPhone in iOS 18. As a result, we now have our first look at Apple’s RCS implementation on the iPhone.

Google’s campaign might seem to have been successful, but Apple was always going to bring RCS support to the iPhone. Recent findings have shown that new laws in China require RCS support from all phones sold in the region.

However, Apple will not support Google’s version of RCS in iOS 18. It’ll stick with the carrier standard, which means some of the features Google offers in its RCS implementation will not be available in iPhone-to-Android chats.

The way Apple handled RCS support in its WWDC materials shows that Cupertino doesn’t prioritize the standard. Apple is only adding RCS support to the iPhone because it has to.

What RCS can do in iOS 18 beta 1

What I’m getting at is that it makes sense for Apple to delay RCS support until the final iOS 18 version rolls out or a more stable iOS 18 release. I’m surprised an X user figured out how to enable the feature on an iPhone running iOS 18 beta 1.

Dhinak G posted images on X that show RCS working on an iPhone. Either that or the screenshots were faked, which is something we always have to keep in mind when looking at leaks.

Assuming the information is legitimate, we’re looking at what you’d expect from the RCS experience. The bubbles will remain green, but messages are marked as being sent through the RCS standard. You get read receipts, typing support, and emoji reactions to messages. File transfers also seem to work in RCS on iPhone.

Also, RCS appears to be working in group chats, but there’s no support for read receipts.

The X users also noted that RCS messages are disabled by default in iOS 18 beta 1 and require some “special magic” to work. When enabled, you’ll have another setting option in the Settings app to enable RCS Messaging.

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.