iPhone to Android messaging will get a massive improvement next year

 (Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty)
(Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty)

Apple is about to make messaging between iPhones and Android phones much smoother.

The tech giant says it will embrace Rich Communication Services (RCS) in 2024, a messaging standard designed to replace ageing SMS and MMS texts.

In essence, the change should make texting your pals on Android virtually similar to texting those with iPhones - apart from one major difference.

As a result of the update, you can expect to see things like read receipts, typing indicators, encryption, high-quality images and videos, and location sharing.

But, green and blue bubbles will continue to separate Android users from their iPhone brethren. That means your elitist mates who look down on anything that isn’t Apple-made will still be able to spot the non-conformists in a group chat.

Notably, this isn’t a case of Apple offering iPhone users an alternative messaging service. As the company notes in a statement first shared with 9to5Mac: “iMessage will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”

Nevertheless, the change is great news for families who use a mix of iPhones and Android phones. Specifically, the ability to see that a message has been read or that a response is being written can help parents rest easy when a child is out and about.

It could also help liven up chats with friends irrespective of the phones you own. If Apple truly delivers on its promise, you should be able to seamlessly add mates to existing group chats, spruce up your threads with animated reactions like balloons and confetti, and view emojis without restrictions.

It’s been a long road to this communications utopia. Historically, Apple has resisted calls from users and rivals to offer seamless messaging between iPhone and Android.

According to internal documents unearthed during Epic Games' court battle with Apple, the iPhone maker killed an iMessage app for Android phones as far back as 2013.

More recently, when an audience member at a tech conference in 2022 asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to add RCS support so his mother could see his videos, he responded: “Buy your mom an iPhone.”

Other companies like Google and Samsung, which have already jumped to RCS, have been urging Apple to follow suit for years. In the meantime, smaller startups and phone makers including the UK’s Nothing tech company have started introducing iMessage support to Android devices.

Apple’s decision comes as the EU is pressuring tech companies to make their services interoperable with other platforms.

The European Commission recently launched an investigation to determine whether iMessage should come under its rules. But, Apple has argued that iMessage isn’t popular enough, and is planning to file against regulation of its App Store.