Google Messages RCS conversations with iPhones have some quirks

Earlier this week, Apple rolled out iOS 18 Beta 2 with support for Rich Communication Services (in the US). The experience of using Google Messages to talk to someone with an iPhone over RCS is pretty straightforward, though it’s clearly the first take.

After updating to iOS 18 Beta 2, an “RCS Messaging” toggle (Settings > Apps > Messages) is enabled by default if you’re on a compatible carrier, like AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon. Right now, RCS on iOS cannot be enabled if you’re on an MVNO, like Google Fi. However, it does not matter what carrier the Android recipient is on once RCS is active on your iPhone.

In Google Messages, opening an iPhone conversation will reveal “RCS message” in the text field. Delivery/read receipts and typing indicators, as well as higher-resolution images and videos, just work. 

Google Messages RCS iPhone

iPhone and Android conversation over RCS

Google Messages will mark that the conversation is not end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) with a lock icon that features a slash. “Message Details” will note the “Type” as “Rich Communication Service Message” instead of “End-to-End Encrypted Rich Communication Service message.”

Google offers its own E2EE for 1:1 and group conversations for Messages on Android. Apple wants encryption to be added to the RCS Universal Profile standard, so Google will presumably move to whatever the industry group lands on in the future.

Meanwhile, going to a conversation’s Details page reveals some missing settings. When talking to somebody with an iPhone, there’s no “Only send SMS & MMS messages” on/off toggle for that thread. There’s also no card detailing E2EE status in most cases (unless they switched SIMs from Android to iOS and it was previously active).

Android vs. iOS

In group conversations, you can change the name and have that sync to all members, while there’s also “Leave group.”  

Ahead of the iOS 18 launch in the fall, Google will presumably update Messages to address these inconsistencies. Otherwise, the experience is pretty straightforward, and should have really happened much sooner.

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