RCS improves basic SMS with support for features like read receipts and encryption. Apple built these features into iMessage when it debuted as part of iOS 5 in 2011, but Apple’s messaging service isn’t available on non-Apple devices. The fluidity of messaging between iPhones (denoted by blue bubbles) has been a major marketing win for Apple compared to the static experience of iPhone to Android phones (denoted by green bubbles). In an alternate timeline without iMessage, RCS would be an easy feature upgrade for Apple to deliver to iPhone users. In reality, Apple solved the problem for iPhone users that RCS solves for Android users over ten years ago.
Apple was implicitly mentioned during Google I/O 2022 in a not-so-subtle criticism about their lack of RCS support for iPhone customers. RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is the current improvement to SMS messaging that Apple pioneered over a decade ago with iMessage. “We hope that every mobile operating system receives the message and upgrades to RCS, so your messages remain private regardless of device,” a business executive stated during the presentation. Google currently employs this security viewpoint on an annual basis.
Should Apple still support RCS on iPhone for text communication that doesn’t use iMessage? I think the only good argument for ignoring RCS is that it might sell more iPhones. For Apple, that might be reason enough to ignore RCS, unless and until the company is compelled to change its mind by carrier services, regulators, or customers.