Anytime you send a text or ‘SMS’ message you are making use of a protocol that enables you to send short messages over wireless networks.

For over 20 years, SMS has been the go-to protocol for instant text communication. However, it falls behind newer messaging services like WhatsApp due to its inability to send video, location data, read receipts, and other features users have come to expect.

iMessage in; RCS on standby

In 2011, Apple introduced iMessage, a new messaging service exclusive to the Apple ecosystem. With improvements such as internet support and end-to-end encryption, iMessage aimed to surpass the limitations of traditional SMS, especially in terms of security and versatility.

Apple’s devices supported both iMessage and SMS. iMessage was used for communication between Apple devices and SMS/MMS for non-Apple users.

To create a distinction, a blue chat bubble was assigned to iMessage chats, while a green bubble was used for SMS.

However, this created multiple problems including usability issues and a potential privacy nightmare, as SMS lacked end-to-end encryption and had limitations on data size, making them less secure than iMessage.

Also, group chats containing Android and iOS users will become cluttered with blue and green chat.

Recognizing the challenges of SMS, Google stepped in with Rich Communication Services (RCS). This new protocol offers identical features to iMessage, including end-to-end encryption, but with the added advantage of cross-platform compatibility for both Android and iOS devices.

Google’s Push for RCS

For years, Apple has been accused of pushback against RCS by deliberately limiting the messaging experience between Android and iPhone users.

In response to these concerns, Google initiated extensive campaigns to persuade Apple to adopt RCS to create a unified and secure messaging experience for users across different platforms.

After much pressure, Apple, this week, unveiled its plans to fully embrace RCS messaging in 2024, promising a more better messaging experience between iPhone and non-iPhone users.

RCS on iPhone

Here are some features RCS adoption will bring to Android and iOS users

  • Introduction of real-time typing indicators read receipts, and better photo and video sharing capabilities
  • Option to share location within text threads or over text messages.
  • End-to-encryption

While it remains uncertain whether the change in bubble colour will accompany the adoption of RCS, the benefits it brings are substantial.

The ability to send full-resolution videos and images, enjoy typing indicators, and better reliability within group chats will undoubtedly enhance the overall messaging experience for users on both sides of the smartphone divide.


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