Apple to bridge the message gap – but keeps green bubbles

  • By Liv McMahon
  • Technology reporter

image source, Getty Images

Hopes have risen that the era of green and blue message bubbles on iPhones may eventually come to an end.

Currently, only iMessages from iPhones have blue bubbles.

Apple says it will support a new messaging standard that will make it easier to send texts between phones.

But messages from Android phones will still appear as green bubbles, suggesting those wanting the bubble gap to burst may be in for a long wait.

The company said it will introduce support for a new messaging standard — Rich Communication Services (RCS) — on iPhones and iOS devices from 2024.

RCS is a standard designed to make it easier for phones on different operating systems to exchange messages.

Apple plans to introduce support for the messaging standard in a software release later next year.

An Apple spokesperson told the tech publication that RCS would be better for users looking to send messages to users of rival phones compared to SMS or MMS.

“This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” the spokesperson said.

Google, which develops the Android phone operating system, has been the biggest competitor urging Apple to enable RCS.

Its “get the message” campaign has emphasized that, in addition to frustration for some users faced with green messages on iPhones or iOS devices, SMS and MMS messages are not protected by end-to-end encryption.

The bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) requires providers of major digital services – so-called core services – to introduce ways for users of their platforms to easily interact with rival platforms – including sending messages between rival systems.

The Financial Times reported in early November that Google and other firms had written to the European Commission urging it to declare Apple’s iMessage a core service that should be interoperable with rivals such as WhatsApp.

Apple has argued that iMessage should not be subject to these rules, but the European Commission had said in September that it was investigating whether Apple’s iMessage should be considered a core service.

Apple’s announcement comes just days after phone maker Nothing launched a way for owners of its latest smartphone to send iMessages to iPhone users.

The company said its Nothing Chats app would offer a bridge between iPhone and Android phones and let users connect via blue bubble messages.

Responding to the news of Apple’s adoption of RCS published on X (formerly Twitter), “looks like they got the message”.