Tim Cook Says iPhone Users Aren’t Asking for RCS Support

Posted on September 8, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Android, Apple, iOS, Mobile with 60 Comments

After Google recently launched a #GetTheMessage campaign to pressure Apple to embrace the RCS messaging standard on iPhones, Apple CEO Tim Cook pretty much said that this is currently far from a priority for the company. During a session at the 2022 Code Conference yesterday, Cook said that he’s not seeing RCS support being a top-requested feature from iPhone users.

“I don’t hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy on that at this point,” Tim Cook said while answering a question from the audience about RCS support. “I would love to convert you to an iPhone,” he continued.

When the audience member added that he couldn’t send his mom certain videos due to the lack of RCS support on iOS, Cook’s reply was just “Buy your mom an iPhone.”

Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Android and Chrome at Google didn’t wait to point out Tim Cook’s answer as proof that Apple is just refusing to support RCS on iPhone to protect its walled garden. “It’s clear why Apple is opposing interoperability. But people should be able to send high quality videos and photos to their mom without having to buy her a new phone,” the exec tweeted.

RCS is the new carrier standard that’s set to replace SMS, and it adds support for high-quality media sharing, read receipts, typing indicators, and more. Texting between Android phones should now use RCS  – it’s enabled by default in Google’s Messages app for Android – but texting between iPhones and Android phones falls back to SMS and MMS.

Apple has its own proprietary messaging standard with iMessage, which replaces SMS and MMS for texting between iPhones. On iOS, iMessage uses blue text bubbles in the Messages app while SMS uses green text bubbles.

As Tim Cook said, Apple would much prefer to “convert” Android users to iPhones and iMessage than add RCS support on iOS. Apple also has no interest in releasing an iMessage app on Android, for obvious reasons.

For many years, iMessage has played a major role in Apple’s ecosystem lock-in, but the EU’s Digital Markets Act may soon change that. Indeed, this new legislation will require the biggest messaging apps such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp to become interoperable, though it’s not clear yet how this will work in practice.

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