Home Tech A guide to RCS, why Apple is adopting it, and how it improves texting

A guide to RCS, why Apple is adopting it, and how it improves texting

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If you have been By keeping up with all the news from WWDC 2024 this week, you’ll know that Apple will bring the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging standard to iPhones later this year with iOS 18. That’s a win for Google, which has long supported RCS. on Android. But what really is RCS? And why is it important to support it?

The short version: It’s an update to the standard SMS/MMS texting standards that smartphones have been using since the beginning. It provides better support for all the cool features we’re used to in our messaging apps, like reading receipts and images, and also adds a few extra layers of security.

Yes, it’s very similar to using Apple’s iMessage or WhatsApp, although it’s not as simple. There is no RCS app you can install, but you can find apps that support the RCS standard, as we will explain.

RCS is coming to iOS this year.

Apple Courtesy

So, the long version: Rich Communication Services is a fundamental standard rather than an app like WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram. It requires carrier support to work, which is why adoption was slow at first, although RCS now works in most countries and is supported by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) weren’t really created for the modern way we communicate through our phones, and RCS is trying to fix that. Adds or improves support for sharing high-resolution images and videos, group chat, read receipts, video calls, and messages that actually exceed 160 characters.

When RCS supports your phone’s default texting app, you can add reactions to messages, see when someone else is texting, and place additional elements like GIFs, stickers, and your current location in conversations—all features you can access. You are probably used to it and accept it as standard in other applications.

There are also changes and updates behind the scenes. While SMS/MMS requires a data connection to your cellular network, RCS works over cellular and Wi-Fi networks. If you don’t have a cellular signal for any reason but can find a wireless network, your message can still be transmitted.

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