Apple May Make iMessage Work with Android (Report)

Updated

Slowly but surely, the technology industry is moving towards a future where SMS text messaging won't matter. And Apple might be joining the rest of the industry's heavyweights in going in this direction, which would put all default smartphone messaging apps on a single standard.

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Over at Reddit, a slide purportedly taken from an October GSMA event suggests the iPhone maker is working on integrating RCS, or Rich Communication Services, into its iMessage platform. The image, which hasn't been independently verified, says that Apple is "engaged in discussions with the GSMA and Operators about including RCS in iOS."

GSMA is the industry trade association that represents mobile-network operators around the world. It's also the body that would help to get RCS off the ground and make the new standard a more powerful force in messaging.

RCS is widely viewed as the next iteration of SMS, the widely used messaging protocol that delivers text messages over cellular telephone networks. Google, Microsoft, and several cellular carriers have all said that RCS, which depends on the internet rather than the cellular networks, would allow for improved messaging experiences for users by allowing for read receipts, typing indicators, and other features you can find in internet-based standalone messaging apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp.

Google already supports RCS in its Android Messages app, but so far only Sprint among the major U.S. carriers supports the protocol. But if Apple were to adopt RCS, which is platform-agnostic, then in a couple of years you'd be able to send iMessages to your friends who use Android phones.

MORE: What Is RCS? Google Gives Brands New Way to Text You

It's unclear whether Apple would even want to support RCS. In fact, the sides suggest that the GSMA and its operator partners "are putting pressure on Apple to launch RCS," suggesting the company might be having its doubts.

Indeed, while RCS could become a standard, Apple doesn't need to support it. And without Apple's support, it would be extremely difficult for RCS to become a true standard.

According to the slide, which was earlier reported on by 9to5Mac, the move to allow RCS on iOS would "improve the Apple-to-non-Apple messaging experience for its customers." It would also "meet the needs of operators in high-Apple-concentration markets" and allow all operators to "prepare for the post-2G, post-SMS future."

It's unclear what might get Apple to decide to support RCS now or in the future and the slides don't say what it will take. But look for more on this as RCS becomes a more important topic in the coming months.