Google Exec Pushing RCS Adoption Says He's 'Not Asking Apple to Make iMessage Available on Android'

Google for the last several years has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS, which is designed to replace the current SMS standard. RCS offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file size, improved encryption, and more.

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For the last few months, Google's senior vice president of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has been publicly trying to persuade Apple to adopt support for RCS, and over the weekend, he once again took to Twitter to speak out on Apple's lack of RCS support for iMessages.

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal published an article about teens with iPhones ostracizing peers who have Android phones with "green bubble" chat messages. Lockheimer tweeted the story and accused Apple of using "peer pressure and bullying" to sell products, stating that Apple could implement RCS to solve some of the messaging issues that exist between iPhone and Android users.


Today, Lockheimer tweeted again to offer some clarification on the statement, which had sparked quite a bit of discussion on Twitter. According to Lockheimer, Google is "not asking Apple to make iMessage available on Android," the company simply wants Apple to "support the industry standard for modern messaging," aka RCS.


Lockheimer's Twitter thread offers a list of reasons why Apple should adopt RCS, such as cross-platform read receipts and typing indicators, secure 1:1 messages between Android and ‌iPhone‌ users, and improved group texting.


"Supporting RCS would improve the experience for both iOS and Android users alike," Lockheimer said. "That's right, RCS will also improve the experience and privacy for iOS users." By not adopting RCS, Apple is "holding back the industry" and preventing both ‌iPhone‌ and Android customers from having the best possible messaging interactions.

Lockheimer ended his Twitter thread by stating that Google is happy to "work with Apple" to make RCS interoperability a reality, which is something that he's said before.

Apple is the last major RCS holdout, as U.S. carriers that include Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have already started adopting RCS support for Android devices. Apple has not commented either way on whether it plans to add RCS support in the future, so the company's position is still unknown.

Top Rated Comments

heov Avatar
12 months ago
This thread will blow up, and a lot of ingorance is already posted. Here are some facts:

-RCS is not owned by Google. It's very much like SMS. There are various RCS profiles that can be used. Some talk to one another, some do not. Some are E2E encrypted, some are not. Apple can certainly use whichever profile they want.

-Yes, RCS can be E2E encrypted. It doesn't have to be, though. Apple can choose to use a profile that is.

-RCS is to replace SMS, not iMessage. There are many iMessage-only features that cannot be duplicated by RCS. RCS will likely still be Green bubbled.

-Again, RCS is a modern SMS. It's not designed to replace WhatsApp, WeChat, iMessage, etc.

The argument most are making is Apple is refusing to support RCS because those Green bubbles will not not suck as much.. you'll get delivery and read receipts, see typing, have high quality images, etc. So an iPhone users won't bully Green bubble people as much. The argument is this is bad for Apple business, because if Green bubbles are less bullied, maybe people will switch.

whether or not this will stop green bubble bullying, who knows. Even if it doesn't, one has to ask... why won't Apple support this standard protocol, then? What are the downsides to RCS over SMS (and to be clear, of RCS fails, it'll fall back to SMS still)?
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ch1ptune Avatar
12 months ago

I don't know anybody who voluntarily uses iMessage or SMS. Those are antiquated systems.

It's all WhatsApp or WeChat.
Well, I don’t know anyone who uses WhatsApp or WeChat. It’s all iMessage or Messenger.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fwmireault Avatar
12 months ago
I find the comments here surprising. For me, Apple adopting a standard that is way secure than SMS is a win for everyone. Google is right on this. If Apple is serious about security, they should push for the adoption of this standard on iMessage. Granted Apple has no incentive to do so, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something i can root for.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LV426 Avatar
12 months ago

And why would Apple do this ?

I'm NOT a fan of Tim Cook's Apple, but in this case, I think they are in the right.
Because it would be the right thing to do. I’m not a fan of iMessage lock in. Open communication standards = better for everyone.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macsplusmacs Avatar
12 months ago
Did not bother reading his tweets.

#greenbubbledude
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BuffaloTF Avatar
12 months ago

I wouldn’t expect support until the yearly iOS upgrade. No matter how often he calls them out in tweets. I’m guessing this kind of change will be marketed heavily by Apple. I’m also guessing Apple will still make non-iMessages green. So the, “think of the children,” arugment probably won’t land with them.
I wouldn't expect support, period. RCS is a stream of other closed-user groups, deployments that only talk to themselves and none of the others - it's just a catch-all term of expected functionality. In order to get inside Google's version, they'd need to give Google access to Messages, or allow Google access to SMS -- another app. Google doesn't make it's API available, it's totally closed. In both scenarios, Google would be able to read at-rest data and harvest it... which is kinda what their real business is and what they really want. The data.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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