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Google exec "feels bad for iPhone users" not being able to use RCS

Google says it doesn't want RCS to replace other message apps, it just wants RCS to be a better default than SMS.
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Published onMarch 24, 2023

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Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Hiroshi Lockheimer spoke briefly about RCS, its growth, and Apple.
  • Lockheimer explained that Google isn’t trying to turn RCS into something that replaces other messaging apps.
  • Lockheimer also said he feels bad for iPhone users who experience degraded features and less security.

For a while now, Google has been trying to convince Apple to adopt the RCS standard. To this date, Apple has firmly chosen to stay inside its iMessage walled garden. Recently, the Senior Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems at Google spoke about RCS, its growth, and iMessage.

In a conversation with 9to5Google, Hiroshi Lockheimer delved into the topic of RCS. During the talk, Lockheimer reminisced about the history, explaining how the GSMA approached Google to bring support to RCS. This help was crucial as carriers — like Verizon and AT&T — all had their own plans on how to implement the standard. He also touched on how Google realized it could accelerate RCS adoption by letting users “get this experience by downloading an app rather than waiting for something they couldn’t control to happen.”

As for the current state of RCS, Lockheimer said that the number of people using Google’s RCS service has grown a lot since last year. According to 9to5Google, that number was 500 million as of Google I/O 2022. Lockheimer also stated that Google isn’t trying to replace other messaging apps, it just wants something better than the outdated SMS system to be the default.

Our research shows that the typical person uses 3 to 4 messaging apps, whether that’s WhatsApp or Snap. That’s great. We’re not trying to build RCS into the one app to rule them all.

The discussion appeared to end with Lockheimer expressing how he feels about iPhone users who are stuck in the middle:

Since you mentioned Apple, I’ll just mention, they talk about how privacy is a human right and how important that is to them. I feel like, “look here’s a technology that’s available now…” Now I just feel bad for the iPhone users who are going to experience the degraded features, it would be great if they could bring that to them. And better security for them as well. You know Android users are fine, they’re texting each other with total security and all that stuff, and now it’s kind of bizarre because now when they interact with iPhone’s we’re going to have to deal with a degraded security experience.

At the end of the day, Apple could always change its mind about RCS. But it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, even as pressure grows from tech enthusiasts and other members of the industry.