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Did Google just preempt a big announcement from Apple? The Android developer just published an updated landing page for Google Messages, showing off key features ranging from customization, privacy and security, and, of course, AI.

On this landing page, there are different sections for each feature set, including one for RCS. As spotted by 9to5Google, if you expand this list of RCS features and scroll to the bottom, you see a section on “Coming soon on iOS: Better messaging for all.” That’s no surprise: We’ve known Apple was adopting RCS since November. However, it’s the next line that brings the news: “Apple has announced it will be adopting RCS in the fall of 2024.”

Has it? Sure, the company has committed to bringing RCS to iPhones, but the last time it discussed the topic, it only said support would be coming later this year. The company never specifically said when during the year we’d be getting RCS, so Google’s announcement here, however subtle, is big news.

Why is RCS on iPhone such a big deal?

Currently, Apple only supports the long outdated SMS and MMS protocols when texting non-Apple smartphones. (AKA green bubbles.) SMS/MMS results in low quality images, terrible quality videos, issues with group chats, and, worst of all, poor security, as it isn’t end-to-end encrypted (E2EE). RCS, on the other hand, is a newer messaging protocol that comes with modern features like E2EE, typing indicators, high-quality images and videos, and streamlined group chats. Unlike iMessage, it’s also not platform specific: So long as your texting app and carrier support RCS, you can message other numbers on the platform with ease.

Apple does not currently support RCS, however, so it’s SMS/MMS until they do. This reluctance to drop SMS is the reason texting an Android from an iPhone is such a pain. It’s not your friend’s fault: It’s Apple’s. You can read more about RCS on iPhone and why it’s such a big deal here.

RCS could be an iOS 18 feature

If Apple is indeed planning a fall 2024 launch for RCS, that strongly suggests the adopting will be a feature of iOS 18. Apple usually releases its major iOS update in September, so it’s likely the company is planning on RCS support as part of that launch. Of course, it could always come with an update like iOS 18.1 or 18.2, but let a guy hope: If RCS is a part of iOS 18, that means it could be in the iOS 18 beta, which Apple will seed to developers (and anyone daring enough to install it) after they announce the software at WWDC 2024.

There is a chance—a chance—we could have RCS support on iPhone starting June 10. If that’s true, you can be sure I’ll be installing iOS 18 Developer Beta 1 as soon as it drops.

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