Apple Messages App Adds RCS and Scheduled Texts

iOS 18

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Apple Messages App Adds RCS and Scheduled Texts

iOS 18

The most significant updates to Apple’s iMessage and Messages app in iOS 18 go beyond Genmoji, AI emoji, or even the ability to send texts via satellite. Now, you can schedule messages to be sent at a future time and date, making texting with Android users much more convenient. Additionally, the app will now support RCS, the next-generation messaging standard set to replace SMS.

These new messaging features are set to revolutionize everyday communication, even though they were briefly mentioned at WWDC 2024 alongside AI and UI updates.

For years, people have wanted to schedule messages, leading developers to create cumbersome workarounds. These ranged from apps that sent push notifications reminding you to send a text to solutions only usable on jailbroken iPhones. The new iOS will come with built-in features that allow you to schedule texts effortlessly.

At WWDC, this feature was only briefly touched upon and was revealed in the same sentence as an update to Tapbacks, which will now support any emoji or sticker in iOS 18. While Apple may not see “Send Later” as a feature needing extensive promotion, it’s likely to be a hit among business users and night owls who remember important messages at odd hours. Apple’s preview indicates its usefulness for sending timely birthday messages or avoiding time zone disruptions.

Perhaps even more crucial is the inclusion of RCS support in the Messages app, addressing many issues users face when texting Android users. Google’s long-standing push for Apple to adopt this standard is finally paying off, promising easier communication between Android and iOS users. The well-known “green bubble” problem—where texts to Android users lack type or read receipts, break group chats, and display blurry photos and videos—will be mitigated, although not entirely solved, since RCS messages will still appear as green bubbles.

Despite the initial lack of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for RCS, Apple plans to support the standard later in the year, likely resolving many usability issues within the Messages app. Although Apple’s press release didn’t elaborate much on these changes, it did mention that RCS would enhance group messaging with richer media and more reliability compared to SMS and MMS.

Earlier rumors suggested Apple might collaborate with the GSMA to add E2EE to the Universal Profile for RCS, but this won’t be supported initially. This absence of encrypted texting was notably unmentioned during the RCS announcement.

Apple’s move to support RCS may have been influenced by regulatory scrutiny in both the U.S. and EU, as well as pressure from lawmakers regarding the shutdown of third-party apps like Beeper, which allowed Android users to access iMessage.

In summary, iOS 18’s new features like message scheduling and RCS support mark significant improvements in Apple’s messaging ecosystem, making it more user-friendly and versatile. These updates promise a smoother texting experience, especially for those who frequently communicate across different platforms.

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