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Apple’s 1st round win – RCS is FINALLY coming to iPhone

So it’s finally happening – or is it?

Apple finally brings RCS coming to iPhone

A week is a very long time in the tech space – and this week is no exception – with Apple is never far from the headlines

Apple has just seemingly made a massive announcement in regards to its messaging platform – but is it just Apple’s attempt to shower us with goodwill?

Let’s pull back the curtains on the announcement yesterday that Rich Communication Services (RCS) is finally coming to iPhone.

Nothing to do with it

This story has been brewing for quite some time and clearly, pressure has been growing on Apple to listen to the pressure being mounted by Samsung, Google and Apple’s dear friend – the European Union.

The timing of Apple’s decision is, well, very Apple. Earlier the week Carl Pei announced that iMessage would be coming to the Nothing Phone 2 – kind of.

Nothing’s workaround for the age-long issue of messaging between Android & iPhone was to develop an app solely for the Nothing Phone 2 called Nothing Chats. On the face of it, it offers many of the benefits of iMessage – blue bubbles and high-quality video sharing – but there will be no end-to-end encryption and it just seems to me that in order to get those elusive blue bubbles on your Nothing Phone that it comes at quite a high price.

To enable Nothing Chats you first have to create an account and to do that you have to sign in with your Apple ID which will create a virtual contact card – and that is your gateway to Nothing’s version of iMessage on their phones.

Nothing confirmed this week that when you sign in and create that account, those details will be held on a Mac mini server on a server farm…somewhere! Now having had a bit of a cyber scare recently where I feared my Apple ID along with other private information may have been compromised, the thought of handing over my Apple ID to an unknown source fills me with trepidation.

I went through the painful experience of changing my Apple ID to something far more secure and there is no way I’d now want to hand that over to a server farm. I like what Nothing represents and the way they are trying to shake things up a bit in the smartphone marketplace.

They are young, fresh, innovative and full of energy. In no way am I saying that Nothing would do anything to risk our online security – but something in me can’t help but think that their announcement this week was clickbait. It was aimed to poke the beast and create some headlines. And it’s certainly done that.

Nothing’s video revealing their plans was only posted two days ago – and it’s already old news!

I did mention a week is a long while in the tech space – remember.

Hopefully, you’re enjoying this story  -  if you wanted to say ‘thank you’, the best way is simply to clap, highlight and get involved in the comments. And my promise to you…If you get in touch I will answer! So clap, highlight and comment away…

Apple’s answer

When Carl Pei (Nothing’s CEO) posted the video on their YouTube channel he said that he imagined that Apple wouldn’t either watch the video or make a public reaction to it…seems he got that one wrong!

Only 48 hours later in an astonishing turn-around Apple announced that RCS would be available on iPhone late next year.

That pressure I mentioned earlier coming from the EU, Samsung and Google is all centred around multi-platform interoperability. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that RCS will be replacing iMessage any time soon – nope, Apple still staunchly believes they have the most secure and user-friendly messaging platform. RCS will be coming to iPhone alongside iMessage, but Apple’s messages app will still be the primary & preferred message platform – as explained here by Jacqueline Roy, an Apple spokesperson:

“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association. We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”

Compared to both MMS & SMS RCS at least offers some level of security and will work over wi-fi as well. Unlike Nothing’s solution, the bubbles will almost certainly still be green when RCS comes to iOS – but you will get typing indicators, read receipts and Apple will also let you share your location. But don’t forget that, unlike Apple’s iMessage, RCS messages are not as securely encrypted.

Push come to shove

The whole green bubble versus blue bubble war has rumbled on for quite some time now. If you are wondering why Apple has been so protective of not opening up iMessage – it all comes down to numbers…

A whopping 87% of teenagers in the United States have an iPhone – that is a staggeringly high percentage and much of that comes from peer pressure. Without an iPhone, you can’t be part of group chats or FaceTime calls and all the other sharing benefits that come with being an iPhone user – and Apple knows only too well the importance of capturing the future market early!

Going hand in glove with the number of teenagers using an iPhone, Apple also has a commanding 50% market share as well – which shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

But as with the eventual move to USB-C, the move to bring RCS to the iPhone was not an altruistic show of goodwill. In September Apple’s nemesis, the EU opened up an investigation into iMessage to determine whether iMessage should be considered a core platform service.

This all leads back to pressure from the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) that required major tech companies to make their services interoperable and cross-platform. Apple though has hit back saying that in Europe, because of competition from WhatsApp, iMessage is not all that popular so the rules should not be applied.

The shouts from the opposition do make some kind of sense when they say that everyone should have the option to have a safe and secure messaging service available to them – even if they don’t have an iPhone.

The net result

I have to admit most of the time when I message it’s to other iPhone users so I haven’t come across these iPhone vs Android issues that much. If I’ve ever had to message non-iPhone users and include videos and pictures I have often used other services such as Telegram or in-app options from the likes of Instagram and of course WhatsApp.

Whatever the truth is of what brought Apple to this decision and interestingly at this particular moment, is not that important. To finally wave goodbye to SMS and MMS can surely be no bad thing.

I know there’s an argument as to whether intervention from governments is a good or bad thing but overall if it goes towards helping the consumer I guess is a help rather than a hindrance.

As much as I love Apple and what it brings us, it never hurts for a company that big to be kept in check. With such power also comes the possibility of slanting the rule book that bit too much in their own favour.

The little wins this year of USB-C and now RCS coming to iPhone has to be a good thing right?

Seems we’ve come a long way very quickly from Tim Cooks’s rebuttal of being drilled by a journalist saying he couldn’t send RCS messages to his mum. Tims’s response which I am sure will be coming back to haunt him over the next few days was – buy your mom an iPhone if you want to end green bubbles.

There’s never a dull moment, right?

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