Apple passes RCS: “Buy your mother an iPhone,” says Tim Cook

There is no generational change for SMS or MMS. That is, for the Short Message Service or the Multimedia Messaging Service. That is, for classic mobile text and multimedia messages. There isn’t, because while Google has long since decided to follow the initiative of the GSM Association, the largest organization of mobile operators, Apple has not the slightest interest in doing the same.

Thus, the interoperability between Android and iOS in this regard shows no sign of improving. We have had a clear example of this a few days ago, with the attendance of Tim Book at the 2022 Code Conference. There a journalist asked him what Apple was doing to improve the compatibility of communications between iPhone and Android users, to which the CEO of Apple replied: «I don’t hear our users asking us to put a lot of energy into that«.

The journalist questioned him, assuring that he could not send some videos to his mother, because she uses Android. To which the boss of the block replied, once again with arrogance, but also with some humor, it is to be expected: «Buy your mother an iPhone«. As if everyone could buy an iPhone for their mother or, for that matter, themselves. If there were only Apple smartphones, nothing indicates that mobile technology would have been democratized as it has been with Android.

However, Cook is partly right: Most iPhone users aren’t interested in RCS. And, without RCS, there is no tutor.

RCS (Rich Communication Services or enriched communication services) is, de facto, the standard called to replace SMS/MMS, an initiative of the GSM Association that Google adopted in Android a long time ago, but from which Apple has passed completely and, due to the position shown by Cook, it does not seem that anything is going to change in the short term. Unless, of course, some regulator forces them to do so, which doesn’t seem like it either.

Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

The problem, however, is different in the United States and in the rest of the world. In the North American country, Apple is a well-rooted institution and your own solution, iMessageis so widespread, especially among the youngest, that when the company considered bringing the application to Android, they quickly dismissed the idea as counterproductive: «iMessage on Android would simply serve to eliminate [un] Obstacle for iPhone families to give Android phones to their children.

In the rest of the world, on the contrary, people usually communicate using independent services and applications, such as WhatsApp, Telegram and many others depending on the territory. Thus, it does not seem that anyone has bothered to find a substitute for SMS/MMS, although there needs to be to ensure minimal interoperability based on standards, and not exclusively private applications and services. The background is, in fact, the thousand and one applications and messaging services that exist, all incompatible with each other.

To get an idea of ​​what we mean: it is as if the large email service providers abandoned current technology to bet each one on their own solution, as they did with instant messaging and videoconferencing: not everyone uses or has to use WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.; it is necessary to have a generational handover that is a standard and that anyone can use without locking themselves into something controlled by a single company, and the only one there is is RCS.

That’s the way things are. With Google calling Apple’s attention for its refusal to adopt RCS, and without -for now- anyone forcing it to do so. And although seen how the world is distributed, it doesn’t seem like a priority…

In the meantime, Google maintains its commitment to RCS and one of the most notable advances in this regard was the implementation of end-to-end encryption in the Android Messages application. Be careful, yes, because it still supports SMS/MMS, so it will depend on who you send a message to to use one method or the other.

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