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Google tells Apple to fix ‘text messages’ to promote RCS protocol – The Register

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Google has launched a campaign to pressure Apple to adopt Rich Communications Services (RCS), a protocol used by most mobile industry vendors, but not the iPhone maker.

Android devices communicate with RCS, but Apple devices do not. Apple uses its own iMessage protocol in its Messages app to communicate between iPhones. So when iPhone users want to chat with Android users through Apple’s Messages app, the conversation happens through an older technology.

And Google, unable to convince Apple to treat Android devices better, has made a website Clay. This represents an escalation of RCS lobby at the Google I/O developer conference in May and a Apple-jabbing tweet in June.

“It’s Time for Apple to Fix Texts,” Says the Search Firm Facing Antitrust Complaints That May Be Resolved With mandatory interoperability.

“Texts between iPhones and Android phones use SMS and MMS, outdated systems from the 90s and early 00s,” Google complains. “The result is a poor experience – they don’t support modern text features like end-to-end encryption, high-quality media sharing, read proofs, type indicators and more.”

Coincidentally, it was about a decade ago when Google “[abandoned] open standards for instant messaging” by moving away from XMPP / Jabber.

To make its case, Google cited messages on social media, in the form of tweets and TikTok videos, expressing frustration with Apple’s intransigence. And the ad giant is promoting the #GetTheMessage hashtag to fuel further outrage on social media.

Google maintains that if Apple upgrades from SMS/MMS to RCS, the subpar experience of texting between iPhones and Android phones – made visible with green cross-platform text bubbles instead of blue Apple-only text bubbles – will be improved.

RCS did not originally include E2E encryption, but Google Messages added support in late 2020; Group messages got E2E encryption this year. Apple supports end-to-end (E2E) encryption for its own iMessage-using customersalthough iCloud backups of Messages contain the encryption key (making encryption useless for backup messages).

Conversations between iPhones and Android devices using Apple’s Messages app are not E2E encrypted. Thus, Google has gone so far as to recommend non-affiliated apps like Signal and WhatsApp as alternatives for iPhone users who want to promote more equal communication with the Android world while maintaining some security.

The Register asked Apple for comment and we haven’t heard back, but there is no surprise over there. The last time Apple provided the proof of life in its communications department was on February 25, 2022 to acknowledge and respond to a question, “Can we email ​​​​​​​​​off the record?” Despite the acceptance of those conditions, no further response was received. So it’s perhaps not surprising that Google’s prodding has not elicited a response from Fortress Cupertino.

During the antitrust case Epic Games filed against Apple in 2020 – still awaiting a decision from the appeals court – messages exchanged by Apple executives revealed why the company may not be inclined to make iMessage compatible with Android apps.

In a court document [PDF] filed last year prior to the Epic Games v. Apple trial, Epic’s lawyers cited internal Apple communications to argue that Apple uses iMessage to close customers in its iOS ecosystem and described how Apple considered creating an Android version of iMessages.

“In 2016, when a former Apple employee commented that “the #1 hardest [reason] to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage. . . iMessage comes to serious lock-in’ to the Apple ecosystem, [then head of worldwide marketing Phil] Schiller commented that ‘moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why,’ the court says. ®


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