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Apple's RCS Texting Experience Gets Its First Look, and It's All Green

It's only a peek, but the "Delivered" status update could make a big difference.

Mike Sorrentino Senior Editor
Mike Sorrentino is a Senior Editor for Mobile, covering phones, texting apps and smartwatches -- obsessing about how we can make the most of them. Mike also keeps an eye out on the movie and toy industry, and outside of work enjoys biking and pizza making.
Expertise Phones |Texting apps | iOS | Android | Smartwatches | Fitness trackers | Mobile accessories | Gaming phones | Budget phones | Toys | Star Wars | Marvel | Power Rangers | DC | Mobile accessibility | iMessage | WhatsApp | Signal | RCS
Mike Sorrentino
2 min read
Apple RCS texting
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Apple RCS texting

Apple's RCS texting screenshot shows a "Delivered" status update, media and a few green bubbles. While it might look a lot like a current MMS conversation, it's likely the biggest improvement a non-iMessage conversation has seen in years on the iPhone.

Apple

Apple's Messages app will be getting RCS texting support later this year as part of iOS 18, but the feature providing better texting between an iPhone and an Android phone didn't get much more than a passing reference during the company's WWDC 2024 keynote on Monday.

But buried in Apple's iOS 18 preview page -- scroll all the way down to the Messages section or just check out the above photo I clipped out -- is a screenshot that displays what an RCS conversation could look like when an iPhone texts with an Android phone.

While it looks a lot like an SMS or MMS conversation, featuring two green bubbles and a green audio waveform, there are three noticeable RCS features on display. The biggest is the "Delivered" status message, which is a huge step forward since SMS and MMS cannot provide such confirmations. 

Next is the (hopefully) high-quality photo, which doesn't look great in this screenshot so we're going to have to believe from the green bubble text beneath it that it is indeed "vibrant." Current MMS texting on the iPhone supports audio messages with Android phones, but hopefully the audio in this conversation is clearer than what currently goes through. 

Watch this: iOS 18 Brings New Tapback Features and Text Over Satellite

And in the text box at the bottom of the image, there's labeling that now says "RCS" to the right of "Text Message," the latter of which is currently used by itself for SMS and MMS chats.

RCS is a more modern texting standard that's been tipped to replace the aging SMS and MMS formats, due to its ability to support features like typing indicators, group chats and high-quality media sharing. The standard has been championed by the industry group GSMA and has been used by Google's Messages app for Android for several years.

However, even though Google's Messages app supports several features that rival Apple's iMessage by taking advantage of RCS, including RCS support in iOS 18 does not necessarily mean that Apple's Messages app will support the same features one-for-one. For instance, Apple said last year it will work with the GSMA to improve the encryption standard included within RCS rather than adopt another company's such as the one Google Messages uses. Apple also announced that its iMessage service will continue to be supported alongside RCS, so it's likely that we'll continue to see iMessage features that will stay separate from RCS.

There are still a lot of questions left to answer about Apple's support of RCS. For instance, how well will it support group chats? Will it translate message reactions that are sent by Android phones to the iPhone? And will RCS texting work over satellite? For now, those details will remain under wraps, possibly until Apple is ready to unveil its next iPhones later this year.