In a move that could help push back against EU regulators, Apple is making it easier for iPhone and Android users to send messages to each other. And with the change Apple’s influence has also diminished.
9to5Mac first reported Thursday that the iPhone maker will integrate the Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging standard, a more advanced text delivery system, into phones from various brands in late 2024. The protocol will support some iMessage features for text chains that include an Android user, including indicators that a message has been read by the recipient and that they are typing, and the ability to send high-quality images and videos.
Apple did not answer questions about specific iMessage features RCS might adopt. Possibilities include “liking” or “emphasizing” text or sending messages with visual effects such as “invisible ink” and “balloons”.
Previously, texts were sent between iPhone and non-iPhone users via SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), systems created in 1992 and 2002 that were criticized for being outdated. RCS was created in 2007 as a more secure alternative with more sophisticated features, and is the standard communication platform between Google and Samsung phones.
“We believe the RCS Universal Profile will provide a better interoperability experience than SMS or MMS,” an Apple spokesperson told 9to5Mac. “It will work with iMessage, which continues to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”
For more than a decade, messages between iPhones appeared blue for Apple users, while messages appeared lemon green for non-iPhone users. Blue text bubbles have become somewhat of a status symbol among younger users, Androiders have kept the blue bubble out of iPhone group texts to maintain the aesthetic, and green text is jokingly considered a red flag among some singles in the dating scene. goes. Apple has acknowledged the social status quo associated with its product and the business it operates, and has until now blocked the more advanced RCS standard from its devices.
It’s unclear whether the adoption of RCS means green text bubbles will change to blue – Apple did not comment on this. of luck Inquire about it—but integrating more advanced messaging protocols for communicating with non-iPhones is a major concession by the company. Although the announcement doesn’t mean that non-iPhone users will get access to iMessage, it does mean that the walls around Apple’s iMessage empire are crumbling. iMessage will continue to be the primary messaging platform among iPhone users.
Apple’s transformation didn’t happen in a vacuum. In recent months, the EU has forced Apple to change many of its practices to improve competition and consumer convenience. New EU rules requiring all phone companies to offer a common USB-C charging port by the end of 2024 have put the spotlight on Apple and its incompatible 11-year-old Lightning cable. For the latest iPhone 15, the company replaced its proprietary port with EU-friendly (and Android-friendly) USB-C. Apple plans to change its App Store policies to comply with the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), which could mean offering third-party stores on its devices and cutting into Apple’s profits from its App Store monopoly. Might have to do.
The EU did not require RCS integration, but it could be a way to appease regulators and limit future problems. The EU Commission is considering whether iMessage falls within the scope of DMA, and its decision will mean Apple may have to improve the interoperability of its devices anyway. This move is also a counter-lobbying strategy to some extent. Google has lobbied the Commission to regulate iMessage under the DMA. By taking a proactive approach and introducing the RCS standard, Apple weakens Google’s case and may solve the problem the DMA seeks to address.
This story originally appeared on Fortune.com