Google uses 30th anniversary of SMS texting to pressure Apple over 'green vs. blue bubble' texting, says iPhones are 'stuck in the 1990s'




 
Two smartphones, one with blue texting bubbles and the other with green.Getty/photoman
Two smartphones, one with blue texting bubbles and the other with green.Getty/photoman  
  • In a "happy birthday" post to SMS, Google called Apple out, saying it's time to switch to RCS.

  • RCS, or Rich Communications Services, would make texting between iPhones and Androids easier.

  • The first SMS message was sent 30 years ago, Google said, but phones are "capable of so much more."

Google, the owner of Android, is taking yet another dig at Apple in it's "happy birthday" post to SMS, which turns 30 this year.

"While I'm all for nostalgia, in this case I also want to look in the other direction," Neena Budhiraja, group product manager for Messages by Google, wrote in the post. "Phones today are capable of so much more; my current phone is a completely different device than my first."

Budhiraja went on to say what Google's been campaigning for for a while now: "texting should - and could - be even better than how it started" with RCS.

"Most of the mobile world is using RCS, but there is one company that's dragging its heels," Budhiraja said, referring to Apple. "But after 30 years of SMS texting, it's truly time."

RCS, which stands for Rich Communications Services, was chosen as a potential replacement for SMS, or Short Message Service, in 2008 by the GSMA, or Groupe Speciale Mobile Association.

Unlike SMS, RCS supports more multimedia features and makes it easier to send GIFs and hi-resolution videos through texts. It also makes group messaging better - all of this because it operates over wi-fi, rather than a carrier bandwidth.

Texting between devices using RCS is a similar experience to iPhone users texting with Apple's proprietary iMessage system, according to The Verge.

Google's post laid out "three big reasons why" everyone in the industry should switch to RCS - "one for every decade SMS has been around."

The first, is that RCS offers end-to-end encryption, offering more privacy for messages.

"This shouldn't even be a thought - just an expectation and something anyone texting should not have to worry about," Budhiraja said.

Not only is there more security, Budhiraja said, but RCS  also"makes the experience better."

As noted above, RCS allows users to share high-quality media content, see when people are typing in real time, use read receipts, name group messages, and remove or add people to groups. Plus, it works over wi-fi.

Budhiraja's third reason is that RCS works "universally."

"All of the major mobile carriers and manufacturers have adopted RCS as the standard - except for Apple," she wrote. "Apple refuses to adopt RCS and continues to rely on SMS when people with iPhones message people with Android phones, which means their texting is stuck in the 1990s."

Google has long tried to get Apple to switch over to RCS. In August, Android launched the #GetTheMessage campaign directed at Apple, which called the company out for not adopting RCS.

In October, Google updated its Messages app, giving Apple a taste of its own medicine. Now, when Messages users react to an SMS text with an emoji, instead of seeing it, an iPhone user will instead get a message saying their text was reacted to with a description of whatever emoji was used.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously said iPhone users don't give him a lot of feedback about fixing texting between iPhones and Androids. Legal documents from Apple's 2021 lawsuit with Epic Games show that Apple is reluctant to make the switch, with an Apple executive saying that "moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us."

Neither Google nor Apple responded to Insider's immediate request for comment.

"Hopefully Apple can #GetTheMessage so we don't have to keep waiting to remove the whole 'green-versus-blue bubble' thing," Budhiraja wrote. "Happy birthday, SMS - you were a great start, and you had a good run, but everyone is ready for an upgrade."

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