Recently, Google SVP of Platforms and Ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer harshly criticized Apple for using “peer pressure and bullying” to “lock in” iPhone users via iMessage. He accused the Cupertino tech giant of being anti-competitive by not supporting RCS protocol to allow Android and iOS users to enjoy text conversation with all the features available to the “blue bubble”.
Now, Lockheimer is back with more thoughts and clarifications of his former stance as another attempt to pressure Apple to adopt RCS but only in a more polite tone.
In addition to supporting standard SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Message Service), the iMessage app also offers more features, exclusively to iPhone users to have more expressive conversations on text like end-to-end encryption protection, stickers, effects, showing reactions, sharing high-quality photos, using Apple Pay, the Read receipt and much more. And the app shows regular SMS in the “green chat bubble” and iMessage texts in the “blue chat bubble”.
The Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol is designed to improve standard SMS which allows users to enjoy rich features available on iMessage, WhatsApp, and other messaging apps like the ‘Read’ receipts, sharing audio and video files, and more. Although Google sees RCS as the eventual protocol to replace SMS, Apple does not support it and that is the issue.
Should Apple adopt the aging RCS protocol to improve standard SMS on iOS?
In his new expository thread on Twitter to persuade Apple of RCS’ benefits, Lockheimer refrained from using harsh words like “bullying” and “lock in”, instead he tried to maintain pressure, politely. He argued that Google is not asking the tech giant to bring iMessage on Android but to support RCS on iMessage like supports SMS/MMS.
He explains that SMS is still very important to reach people without worrying about which app they use. Therefore, RCS support on iMessage will enrich the SMS/texting experience between Andoird and iOS users.
We’re not asking Apple to make iMessage available on Android. We’re asking Apple to support the industry standard for modern messaging (RCS) in iMessage, just as they support the older SMS / MMS standards.
Supporting RCS would improve the experience for both iOS and Android users alike. That’s right, RCS will also improve the experience and privacy for iOS users.
He also announced that the group chats feature is coming to RCS. But is that enough reasoning to persuade the company with over a billion iPhones in the market? DigitalTrends explains that Apple is not missing piece in the widespread adoption of RCS, there are other issues.
In 2018, Google announced it had been working with major cell phone carriers worldwide to adopt RCS. The result is Chat, a protocol based on the RCS Universal Profile — a global standard for implementing RCS that lets subscribers from different carriers and countries communicate with each other.
There are a lot of moving parts required for Chat to work. First, your carrier must support the protocol. You also need to have a device and messaging app that supports Chat. Finally, your recipient will need to have Chat too, otherwise, Chat messages revert to SMS.
RCS remains a hard slog as the platform ages with challenges of its own. Free messaging is already the norm, and the top-level apps have already run away with the show. While the original RCS protocol allowed the implementation of client-to-server encryption, Chat does not currently offer end-to-end encryption like iMessage or Signal. Google has announced it is beginning to enable end-to-end encryption on top of Messages, but only in beta form. RCS also lacks cross-device support for laptops, desktops, tablets, and watches — products that don’t have a phone number.
And for over 10 years now, RCS’ one step forward and two steps back, sluggish progress makes it hard to be optimistic about it replacing SMS. Keeping these issues in mind, why should Apple adopt the RCS protocol?
Counter-Argument: While Apple should indeed support RCS, Apple supporting RCS isn’t going to stop shit. Google had handing opportunities for success in this space on a silver platter. — RCS isn’t as readily ubiquitous (carriers don’t have any incentive).
— Joe (@RealJoseph123) January 10, 2022