Apple Announces Enhancements to Green and Blue Text Messaging

Beginning subsequent yr, it ought to be much less irritating for iPhone and Android customers to textual content each other.

Apple says images and movies despatched between these units can be of upper high quality. Group messaging can be extra dependable, and customers will even have the ability to activate learn receipts and ship their areas in texting threads.

The modifications will come as soon as Apple provides assist for a expertise referred to as wealthy communication providers, also referred to as RCS, subsequent yr, the corporate mentioned. RCS is just like the extra fashionable cousin of quick message service, or SMS.

Inexperienced message bubbles sign that they’re coming from an Android or different non-iPhone person. However they’ve come to be related to an disagreeable texting expertise for iPhone customers, whose messages are blue to point that they’ve been despatched through iMessage. The inexperienced bubble is right here to remain, nevertheless: It is going to sign when RCS is in use.

The expertise “will work alongside iMessage, which can proceed to be one of the best and most safe messaging expertise for Apple customers,” Apple mentioned in an announcement.

Till now, Apple had proven no need to make the modifications.

When asked at last year’s Code Conference in regards to the texting expertise by an attendee who expressed difficulties with sending movies to the attendee’s mom, Tim Cook dinner, Apple’s chief government, responded, “Purchase your mother an iPhone.”

The about-face might have been set off by strain from rivals, reminiscent of Google and Nothing, a cellular expertise firm, and the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.

“Apple is actually the one main firm that hasn’t, till now, adopted RCS requirements,” mentioned Caitlin Seeley George, the campaigns and managing director for Combat for the Future, a nonprofit digital rights group. The group has pushed Apple to undertake the expertise.

“We predict it’s a superb signal that Apple is making this shift and an indication that possibly they’re listening to the general public on this one,” she mentioned.

Ms. Seeley George mentioned that enabling the texting expertise would additionally enable customers to see whether or not somebody is typing and whether or not their messages had been obtained.

Google adopted RCS years in the past, and the corporate has tried to strain Apple into doing so virtually ever since.

Google began a marketing campaign final yr referred to as Get the Message, which included a video mocking an Apple product launch video and included a pager with options reminiscent of “outdated messaging tech,” “texting nightmares” and “damaged group chats.”

“By not incorporating RCS, Apple is holding again the business and holding again the person expertise for not solely Android customers but in addition their very own prospects,” Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vp, wrote on social media final yr.

In an announcement, Google mentioned it was “completely satisfied to see Apple take their first step in the present day by approaching board to embrace RCS.”

“Everybody deserves to speak with one another in methods which can be fashionable and safe, it doesn’t matter what telephone they’ve,” the assertion mentioned.

Apple additionally faces budding competitors from Nothing, the cellular tech firm.

Nothing not too long ago introduced Nothing Chats, which permits non-iPhone customers to ship iMessages as if they’re iPhone customers. Nothing Chats, which is in beta mode, change the inexperienced bubbles with blue ones and permit for group chats, voice notes, high-resolution media sharing and extra between these units.

“If messaging providers are dividing telephone customers, then we need to break these limitations down,” the corporate’s web site reads.

Apple’s announcement additionally comes earlier than Europe’s Digital Markets Act goes into impact in 2024, which may result in better scrutiny of its messaging system.

The legislation will apply to so-called gatekeeper platforms, together with Apple, and is geared toward forcing these corporations to loosen their grip in the marketplace. Apple, for instance, might have to permit alternate options to its App Retailer.

Ms. Seeley George referred to as Apple’s announcement a “fairly massive swing in a brand new path.” However there was nonetheless vital work to be achieved, she mentioned, particularly on end-to-end encryption.

Messages despatched between iPhones are encrypted, however messages between iPhone and Android customers can’t be encrypted with out RCS, she mentioned. Combat for the Future has also pushed Apple and different corporations to embrace encryption.

“This can be a massive concern for various susceptible communities which can be typically underneath surveillance or focused by legislation enforcement,” Ms. Seeley George mentioned, pointing to a teen in Nebraska who was sentenced in July to 90 days in jail after the police obtained her Fb messages about plans to finish her being pregnant.

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