(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

When your mates have Android, and thus no access to iMessage, the restrictions of standard text messages can be, at best, extremely annoying. While the solution for the longest time has been to just ‘buy an iPhone, lads, and you’ll get iMessage because it’s better’, there’s now a different option to improve interoperability between iPhone and Android.

RCS (or Rich Communication Services for the uninitiated) for iPhone was announced a few months ago, but now users of iOS 18 beta 2 are starting to see messages from their Android device-wielding compatriots get the little RCS tag on their iOS devices. But what does RCS actually do — and why should you care that it’s coming?

No Blue messages

Beeper Mini iMessage on Android

(Image credit: Future / Apple / Android)

Ok, so firstly something that RCS isn’t going to do — before it was announced, many assumed that if Apple were to adopt the RCS standard, then the blue messages of iMessage would be coming to people messaging from Android instead. This isn’t happening, with the blue messages still reserved for those using iMessage on an Apple device. Sorry Android users, you can’t have everything. And if you do, just like, buy an iPhone.

Richer file formats

Normal text messages are restricted in what kind of content you can send with them, and RCS looks to change that. You’ll be able to send much larger images and files across over RCS, including photos and videos that are much higher resolution than those SMS is capable of sending. You’ll also be able to send and receive audio messages from Android devices too, so that friend who has too much to say can bombard you with three-minute voice notes about their night on the town. Joy.

Better emoji support and Tapbacks

Pre RCS, you could only send simple emojis to an Android handset from your iPhone — and you definitely didn’t have a way of reacting to messages directly. Now, however, you’ll be able to send a wider range of emojis with more sticker support and Tapbacks so that you can really illustrate how you feel about that latest picture on Instagram of your mate’s spaghetti from the local Italian.

fix pictures not appearing in text messages. Messages app on iPhone

(Image credit: iMore)

Typing indicators and read receipts

In iMessage, you can see when the other messaging party is typing out their response to your message in real-time — helpful so that you don’t accidentally send something while they’re forming their words to you. Now, thanks to RCS, you’ll know when they’re typing — no more awkward, early responses! Although, really, we should just be saying everything we need to say in one message: But who has time for that?’

Also new: Not sure if your message has been read? You’ll be told if 1. Your message has arrived and 2. Whether or not it’s been read. That’s right, no more excuses for not responding, apart from the old ‘I had a response typed out and everything, and then forgot to press send!’

iMore offers spot-on advice and guidance from our team of experts, with decades of Apple device experience to lean on. Learn more with iMore!

WiFi or Cellular

You can now opt to send messages over WiFi instead of Cellular, so you don’t use any of your Data plan if you’re near a decent WiFi connection. 

Android and iPhone group chats

Previously, unless you use a different messaging app, group chats on iMessage have been reserved for the iPhone users in the group, leaving Android owners out in large iPhone user friendship circles, and iPhone users in Android-using groups. Now, the hierarchy is brought up to scratch — you can create group chats with everyone in them. Harmonious, very wholesome. You’ll still know who the Android users are though, with their gross green bubbles. You know who you are.

More from iMore

As iMore’s Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she’s got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won’t find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don’t ask her about AirPods Max – you probably won’t like her answer.

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

The post RCS arrives in iOS 18, here are 5 ways it’ll improve messaging on iPhone first appeared on

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