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Apple to make major changes to iPhone messages next year

(CNN) – The age-old battle over iOS’s blue and Android’s green text bubbles will soon take a friendlier turn.

Apple has announced plans to adopt a messaging standard that will eventually give Android users iMessage functionality, eroding what some thought was an element of Apple’s walled garden. .

The changes, first reported by tech site 9to5Mac, add features such as read receipts, typing indicators, better support for group chats, and high-quality media sharing of images and videos across platforms.

Apple announced in a statement that it will add support for a standard called RCS (Rich Communication Services) later next year. RCS is considered an alternative to services such as SMS and Short Messaging Service and works over both Wi-Fi and mobile data.

“We believe RCS Universal Profile provides a better interoperability experience compared to SMS and MMS,” the company said in a statement. “It works alongside iMessage and will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”

push from europe
This change follows pressure from both regulators and competitors to work more seamlessly across operating systems. For example, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act requires companies to make key services interoperable across platforms. Earlier this year, the company began investigating whether to consider iMessage as a core product.

Meanwhile, Google already supports RCS within its messaging apps and has been vocal about wanting Apple to adopt the standard. In early November, the company sent a letter to the European Commission arguing that iMessage is indeed Apple’s core product and should be required to comply.

Google said in a statement: “No matter what mobile phone you have, everyone deserves to communicate with each other in modern and secure ways.” “As such, we have been working closely with the mobile industry to accelerate the adoption of RCS. Today, we are pleased to see Apple take the first step by joining the adoption of RCS. , we welcome Apple’s participation in our continued work with the GSMA to evolve RCS, make messaging fairer and more secure, and implement this on iOS in a way that works well for everyone. We look forward to working with them. ”

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apple resistance
For years, Apple has opposed this type of connection. Asked at a conference last year what Steve Jobs thought about the current state of cross-platform communication, CEO Tim Cook said, “I’ve heard that users are asking us to put a lot of energy into it at this point.” “I haven’t.” When an audience member said he couldn’t share a particular video with his mother, who isn’t an iPhone user, Cook responded, “Buy her an iPhone.”

The change also comes nearly two months after Apple announced it would be touting its USB-C universal charging system for the first time on the next-generation iPhone 15. The switch comes less than a year after the European Union approved legislation requiring smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, portable speakers and other small devices to support USB-C charging by 2024. .

“The inclusion of USB-C in new iPhones and support for RCS messaging are both ways for Apple to get ahead of European Union regulations, which it would have been forced to do anyway,” the vice president said. Dipanjan Chatterjee said. Analyst at Forrester Research. “It would be better for companies to own it and market it to their benefit.”

According to Michael Inouye, principal analyst at ABI Research, Apple is also working with non-profit organizations to work with mobile phone carriers to make RCS more secure through encryption and bring it closer to, if not on par with, iMessage. The company plans to collaborate with the GSM Association. – “something that could benefit all users”

“Some also wonder if this will pave the way for more Apple users to try out new Android devices, as there will be better support for communication between iOS and Android, such as on foldable phones. ” Inouye said. “However, we do not expect this to play a significant role in changing iPhone demand.”

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What is the lifespan of a bubble?
However, this move doesn’t necessarily mean that the green bubbles (Android or other users) and blue bubbles (Apple users) that appear when you message someone on other platforms will disappear anytime soon. there is no.

Chatterjee said preserving color is a marketing strategy for Apple that will likely continue despite the move to the RCS standard.

“The blue bubble is a symbol of the Apple family, and this unique identity and the company’s iMessage platform aren’t going away anytime soon,” Chatterjee said. “Instead, RCS support will enable a smoother and better customer experience for iPhone users when communicating across platforms. The company hopes it will be a win-win for everyone.” “Customers can live in Apple’s world while also having fun with other users.”

(Tag translation)Apple

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