Google is not asking for iMessage on Android with RCS push


After critical comments on Saturday, Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer is back with some “thoughts and clarifications” on RCS and iMessage.

The SVP of Platforms and Ecosystems starts by stating that Google is “not asking Apple to make iMessage available on Android” as part of its public, year-long RCS adoption push. This was something Apple looked into when rumors of Google acquiring WhatsApp emerged several years ago, but Apple executives have since dismissed that idea as hurting iOS exclusivity.

Google’s specific goal is to have Apple support the Rich Communication Services standard on iOS like it does SMS/MMS. It believes that “phone number-based messaging is the fallback that we all know will work.”

If you want to reach someone and you don’t know whether they use app x y or z, you have high confidence that sending them a text (SMS) will work. That’s because it’s a standard and supported by essentially all mobile devices. That’s probably why Apple supported SMS to begin with.

Lockheimer argues that adoption would “improve the experience for both iOS and Android users alike” in terms of new features and privacy. Google says it’s “happy to work with Apple to make RCS interop[erability] a reality.”

By not incorporating RCS, Apple is holding back the industry and holding back the user experience for not only Android users but also their own customers.

Meanwhile, Lockheimer’s tweet highlighted “secure 1:1 messages” as something now allowed by RCS. End-to-end encryption support in Google Messages exited beta on Android last June, and the Android chief now alludes to E2EE for group conversation “coming soon.”

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