News about Apple’s and Google’s messaging services simmers on the front burner. Two different views in particular stood out to me yesterday, one from long-time Apple writer John Gruber and one from Android writer JR Raphael. Both offer good points and are worth your time to read. They got me to suspect that the RCS text standard won’t succeed — which led to a related thought experiment — then another piece by Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica confirmed my suspicion.
There are pros and cons to the blue messaging/green texting situation. In a recent post, I pointed out one real downside I see in practice on my iPhone, that an SMS text message (green) ungroups an iMessage group chat (blue). It’s not that big of a deal to me, but there are other downsides to SMS that hurt Apple’s Messages. One worth mentioning is that end-to-end encryption, a crucial strength of iMessage, gets undone with SMS texting.
In JR Raphael’s piece, he promotes a solution that may be merely a stopgap: that Apple should adopt the RCS messaging standard as a replacement to SMS. This seems like a good approach, one that I thought couldn’t hurt and would probably be for the better. One benefit to gain: RCS supports typing indicators like iMessage. That said, I later realized that the solution, or replacement, to SMS (or any form of texting) has already been implemented across most of the world.
Gruber’s article mentions it where he paraphrases Ben Thompson:
“Pre-iMessage, the U.S. was an outlier for SMS, because U.S. carriers made SMS text messages free, or included so many SMS monthly text messages in their plans that they were effectively free. Whereas elsewhere around the world, SMS text messages always cost at least 10 cents a pop — often more — to send, which was a big motivation to find alternative messaging services.”
John Gruber – Daring FireballThe last bit, “alternative messaging services,” is noteworthy.
“[RCS] is a 14-year-old carrier standard, though, so it lacks many of the features you would want from a modern messaging service, like end-to-end encryption and support for non-phone devices.”
“…it’s a poor standard to build a messaging platform on because it is dependent on a carrier phone bill. It’s anti-Internet and can’t natively work on webpages, PCs, smartwatches, and tablets…”
Ron Amadeo – Ars Technica