Apple’s Big iMessage and Texting Update Needs to Happen Before iOS 18 Drops – CNET

Apple’s Messages app and iMessage texting service are among the targets of the US Department of Justice’s lawsuit filed Thursday. The DOJ and 16 state attorneys general claim that Apple is using its dominance in the US mobile industry to stifle competition. 

Despite the fresh scrutiny on iMessage, Apple already announced plans to bring RCS — a much more modern messaging protocol with updated features — to the iPhone this year. Doing so represents a major step towards bridging the divide between Android and iOS when it comes to the cross-platform messaging experience since it would support features like typing indicators, higher quality media sharing and message encryption.

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But until Apple starts delivering these features, Apple’s Messages app remains a big target for both the US government and by other private companies like Beeper trying to make their own texting services compatible with iMessage.

Apple usually waits until it launches the next version of iOS in the fall to introduce new cross-compatible features. For instance, Apple added the ability to create web-based links for FaceTime calls with iOS 15, enabling Windows and Android users to join. That suggests we may not hear about Apple’s progress in bringing RCS to the iPhone until June, followed by a potential rollout in the fall.

But with all the mounting pressure, Apple can’t afford to wait.

Beeper Mini graphic Beeper Mini graphic

Beeper tried to bring iMessage to Android but was shut out by Apple.


Beeper, Nothing and others keep trying to jump into iMessage

Apple should speed up its RCS adoption to circumvent external attempts to provide an “iMessage for Android.”

While both Beeper Mini and Nothing Chats made headlines for trying to bring iMessage access to Android, both relied on loopholes in Apple’s service. In some cases, you needed to entrust your Apple ID and password to a third party, which could potentially raise privacy concerns.

Other services like Blue Bubbles used an always-on Mac paired up with software to route iMessage texts to an Android device, but even these self-hosted options have their own security risks (along with the logistical issues like losing access if your Mac lost power). 

Apple actively shut down Beeper’s access to iMessage last year, but services keep arriving to satisfy a desire among Android users who want to text their iPhone friends with modern features like typing indicators and better group chat support. By hurrying up on RCS, Apple could divert people from seeking out these services and deal with fewer security threats on its iMessage network in turn. 

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