RCS gets major update, bridges Android-iPhone messaging gap

GSMA, the association responsible for maintaining a standard global mobile communication system, has announced a major update for RCS (Rich Communication Services). Universal Profile 2.7 of RCS brings “Extended Messaging” features to enable more engaging messaging experiences. The update should significantly improve Android and iPhone interoperability of the next-gen mobile messaging standard.

The latest RCS update standardizes messaging between Android and iPhone

Finalized in June, GSMA recently publicized Universal Profile 2.7 of RCS. This update adds several modern features to your standard text messaging. Like WhatsApp, Telegram, and many other messaging apps, RCS-based chats on your phone will properly show replies and emoji reactions to messages. Currently, if you react to a message with an emoji, it is sent as an SMS text. It is the standard behavior on the iOS Messages app and Google Messages for Android.

The official specification published by GSMA also mentions custom reactions. These can be an existing or generated image like a Live Sticker, Genmoji, or Photomoji. Additionally, this RCS update will fix the reply problem on iOS. The current version of RCS on iOS 18 does not support inline/threaded replies from Android users. Android-to-Android conversations don’t have the issue. Replies note the message you were referencing, like on messaging apps.

The updated RCS standard also supports editing and deleting of messages after they are sent. If you want to fix a typo or entirely recall the message you just sent, you have both options. There will probably be a time limit for these actions, though. Once it’s elapsed, you cannot edit or delete a sent message in a conversation for both parties. “An RCS client shall provide an option to recall an RCS message shortly after they sent that message,” the official specification states.

Enhanced spam protection & more improvements

This RCS update will offer better spam protection than before. GSMA is extending spam reporting to one-to-one chats. “The Spam Report Message allows a client to report an RCS user as a spammer or as an identifier involved in fraud, sending inappropriate content, or other inappropriate behavior,” the Association explains. These spam reports will go to the application server and be processed accordingly to “take unilateral blocking action.”

Overall, this update will modernize RCS messaging so you don’t have to rely on third-party apps. It will also improve the messaging experience between Android and iPhone. Apple recently added RCS support to iOS, so it’s still a new thing for iOS users. The feature is currently in beta and will be available publicly with the iOS 18 update later this year. As they say, “Better late than never.” Hopefully, Google and Apple will adopt the updated RCS standard quickly.

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