Google pushes Apple to adopt RCS texting

Android mascots line the demo area at the Google I/O Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Beck Dieffenbach | Reuters

Google, the Android developer, is increasing pressure on Apple to adopt RCS, the next-generation standard for texting.

She argues that Apple’s support for RCS will help prevent some of the problems that arise when iPhone users send text messages to Android owners. At the moment, pictures and videos do not appear as clearly as possible, for example, and texts cannot be sent over Wi-Fi networks.

Google executives have suggested that Apple will not support RCS because its own system, iMessage, helps the Cupertino company retain iPhone users by locking them into the apple ecosystem.

In the site and Tuesday publicity campaign, Google blamed Apple for creating a substandard experience when iPhones send a text message to Android phones or vice versa.

“We hope Android users will stop blaming them for spoiling chats,” said Adrienne Lofton, Google’s global vice president of integrated platform marketing. “This Apple is to blame, and it’s time to take responsibility”.

This campaign is a notable escalation in the ongoing conflict of compromise between the two companies that dominate smartphone software. Almost all smartphones in the world run either Android or Apple’s iOS, and Apple’s iPhone takes up more than 55% of the US market, according to StatCounter.

Google wants Apple to support the RCS “standard,” or specifications that allow many different companies such as carriers or phone makers to develop apps that can send and receive RCS messages. Many Android phones already have built-in messaging apps that support RCS.

Messaging services have become a major battleground for tech giants because if all a user’s contacts are using the same service, the user will be “locked out” and less likely to switch to another platform or app.

Meta, which owns Facebook, owns WhatsApp and said it competes directly with Apple because of how much iMessage is used in the United States. The messaging has also caught the attention of some policymakers who are pushing to force competing services to work with each other under fair competition rules.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president in charge of Android, said earlier this year that Apple is using its text messaging system to Lock in their customersreferring to internal Apple emails made public during a lawsuit last year that showed top Apple executives dropping proposals to bring the iMessage app to Android.

“I am concerned that iMessage on Android is simply removing an obstacle for iPhone families to give their children Android phones,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s current vice president of software, wrote in 2013, according to an email.

Apple’s iMessage is a little different from other messaging services because it is the default text messaging app on the iPhone.

Apple systems detect when an iPhone sends a text message to another iPhone, and instead of sending that message through the SMS system, it uses Apple’s iMessage network. Users see the text they’ve sent as a “blue bubble”, as opposed to the green color that appears in SMS messages, such as those addressed to Android users. The inferiority of the “Green Bubble” scripts became a meme and inspired a song by musician Drake.

iMessage chats provide a better user experience than SMS chats on iPhone. Many Apple features, such as adding emoji reactions to a single text message, barely work on SMS conversations. iMessage conversations feel faster due to Apple’s animations and include features like recipe reading, bubbles that indicate whether a user is typing or not, and superior group chats.

Apple continues to differentiate iMessage from SMS with new features, such as the ability to unsend or edit messages, which will be released this fall.

Green and blue bubbles.

Baton Manya | istock | Getty Images

Google says it doesn’t want Apple to bring iMessage to Android, but it does want Apple to support RCS, which was developed by a group of wireless carriers and other tech companies to be an improvement over SMS and MMS systems that have been around for decades.

Google’s campaign confirms Tuesday that support for RCS for iPhones will allow several new features when an iPhone user sends a text message to an Android user, including high-resolution photos, the ability to send texts over Wi-Fi, and the ability to view read receipts.

Google also says that RCS messages are encrypted while SMS messages are not, which means the new standard is more private.

“if [Apple] Adopted the platform, it allows consumers to enjoy things like high-resolution photos and video sharing, reading receipts, and rich feedback.

But SMS is not important for messaging in many markets and Google’s campaign is focused on the US market. In many countries, users send text messages via apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram or WeChat.

In fact, Google recommended in its campaign on Tuesday that users can actually download Signal or WhatsApp, noting that these free apps are as safe as RCS promised.

Apple has remained silent about RCS and continues to add features to iMessage, which only works on iPhones and other Apple products. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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