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Rich Communications Services: iOS may support a new form of texting

Apple has reportedly been in talks to support a new text messaging standard. The new format, dubbed “Rich Communications Services” or RCS, would build and improve on the SMS text messages that have been standard practice since last century.

Of course, Apple has its own proprietary messaging platform – iMessage – for communication between Apple devices. But for cross-platform texting, it still relies on SMS. That’s why you see a green message bubble when chatting with an Android user in Messages – these green messages are routed through your cell provider, will count against any text limit set on your contract, and are limited to simple text messages. By contrast, blue iMessages are sent using a data connection like Wi-Fi and can freely include high fidelity audio, video, and photo attachments.

When there’s no data connection for iMessage, you can always use a good old-fashioned SMS instead

RCS is a new cross-platform service that intends to bring texting into the future, to bring it more in line with iMessage and other internet-based chat platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. RCS is intended to support features like read receipts, typing indicators, group chats, and media attachments – all things sorely lacking from SMS.

Whether Apple would agree to support the format is anyone’s guess, but at the very least it seems to be in discussions alongside Microsoft, Google, and many cell carriers who wish to push the format. A multi-platform standard would be a good thing for customers, as it would greatly improve the experience for iPhone-to-Android chat (and vice versa) but Apple may consider it a threat to the superiority of its exclusive iMessage platform.

Only one question remains. What color would the message bubble be?