Google's still banging on about Apple's green bubble

From Jay Peters' "Google once again calls out Apple for not adopting RCS" posted Thursday on The Verge:

Onstage at its big Pixel event on Thursday, Google called out Apple for not adopting RCS for better text messaging. Google didn’t say the word “Apple,” but it’s pretty obvious who the company was referring to.

“When it comes to text messages, Pixel uses RCS for enhanced media sharing and end-to-end encryption,” Google’s Brian Rakowski said at the event. “RCS is the modern industry standard for messaging, and it’s already been adopted by most of the industry. We hope every device maker gets the message and adopts RCS, making texting better for every smartphone user.”

But Apple, so far, hasn’t seemed to care about RCS. The company still hasn’t adopted the standard even though Google has been beating the RCS drum for years. And at Code 2022, when an attendee lamented he couldn’t send some videos to his mom, who is on an Android phone, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that he “buy your mom an iPhone.” iMessage remains a crucial differentiator for Apple, and it won’t fix the green bubble problem because doing so wouldn’t sell iPhones.

My take: Ouch.

Bartley Yee's take: Beating a dead horse while introducing your latest dead horse products.


  1. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Always amusing to read passages such as: “Apple is “holding back the user experience” for customers.” In reality, the better encryption provided by Apple and the acceptance by all iPhone and other device users of the “blue bubble” messages not only speaks volumes about the superior message delivery system, but also undercuts the constant wining and sniveling from Google.

    It’s rather ironic that even before I knew of this blue bubble v. green bubble text controversy, and green phone numbers v. blue phone numbers, it was readily apparent that individuals who had an Android (green) phone were unable to receive rather large videos that I attempted to forward. While the blue phone numbers had no issues at all. But I have to hand it to the newer generations who ostracized individuals on group texts who show up as “green.” Apparently, the old adage of “green with envy” has been turned upside down, inside and out, given that the preferred text messaging format is blue. Just like the calming sight of the blue ocean or listening to a song by Old Blue Eyes!

    I’m currently looking into whether or not two of my favorite regulators (Kahn and Vestager) have blue eyes.

    October 6, 2022
  2. John Konopka said:
    A quick bit of searching reveals that RCS is not end-to-end encrypted. It may be possible, but not likely without a lot of carrier support.

    Regarding the guy who couldn’t send videos to his mom’s Android phone, I think Tim Cook had it right. This is an Android problem, not an iPhone problem.

    October 6, 2022
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was always my perception that RCS was inferior to iMessage. Not that I can tell, the overwhelming number of my finders use iPhone. The only place I get a sense that something isn’t right between iMessage and Android is that my iPad can’t communicate with Android and vice versa. I rarely send/receive large file via text and have no reason to question the thoroughness of encryption. I haven’t seen any inconvenience caused by incompatibilities between iMessage and Android. If Android people do, then I say “Oh well”.

    October 6, 2022
    • Charles A. said:
      You can see and respond to Android messages on all your Apple devices. Go into Settings -> Messages on your iPhone and tap on Text Forwarding. Make sure all your iOS devices and your Mac are toggled to the ON (green) position.

      October 9, 2022
  4. David Emery said:
    How long before Google will pressure the EU to pass legislation mandating RCS as a European Standard?

    October 6, 2022
  5. Fred Stein said:
    My BS detector starting flashing with “already been adopted by most of the industry”.

    How to install on Samsung, obviously not the default:

    From July 2022 (kinda late, eh?) “enable Rich Communications (RCS) on your Galaxy smartphone. To enable RCS, open the Settings app on your Galaxy phone. Then, access “Connections” and go to “More connection settings.” In this menu, tap the “Rich Communications” toggle ON to enable RCS on your Samsung device.”

    October 6, 2022
  6. Greg Lippert said:
    That you can use iMessage over Wi-Fi is also a huge advantage. I don’t hear that advantage mentioned.

    October 6, 2022
  7. Fred Stein said:
    There is nothing so powerless as an idea whose time has come and gone.

    See ‘light reading’, Jan of 2022 article “In 2022, will telcos get the RCS message at last?”

    In the text, it says, The GSMA first introduced the concept of RCS 14 years ago. The goal of GSMA is help its industry, service providers. Back then they had a message revenue stream to protect. Since 2008, so much has changed. Apple and many others have come up with messaging services. Google wants to disrupt Apple’s and these other messaging services.

    October 6, 2022
  8. Fred Stein said:
    From Techradar: (doesn’t support Rakowski)

    The number of mobile phone users able to send and receive RCS messages is set to reach 1.2 billion by the end of 2022.

    RCS combines the universality of SMS with rich media capabilities and is supported by Google, device manufacturers, and mobile operators who believe the standard can seize back some of the market and help increase revenues – especially in the business market.

    October 6, 2022
  9. Bart Yee said:
    The problem with RCS is it isn’t a standard with the various telecoms around the world and each has specific interests in their own versions of RCS or SMS as a basic backup. Even Google’s RCS is a unique fork of the so-called standard.

    Google’s problem for adoption is the already widely spread use of Apps like What’s App, Messenger, Telegram, Skype, etc. which are cross platform and independent of telecom infrastructure save for the data pipes. I don’t see many Android users who already use the above to consider switching over to Google based messaging apps seeing as Google has already gone through 11 different types of Apps before abandoning them each after a few years. And without true end-to-end encryption, users are wary of Google’s ability to keep things secure.

    Besides, why should Apple change anything for a company who’s smartphones number less than 30M total sold 6 years even if they do write that free open source software.

    October 7, 2022
    • David Emery said:
      Google fully understands the problem with de-jure standards (e.g. ISO, IEC, ITU, ITEF) and with ambiguous or incomplete implementations. The failure of Google to push a well defined de-jure standard in this area is an indication to me that Google is looking at this as a competitive advantage, and is not really interested in interoperability.

      And that would be my recommendation to any politicians pushing RCS: “Establish a formal standardization activity, including a full set of requirements. Include in that activity independent conformance testing, so it’s not up to Google to decide if an Apple implementation conforms to the standard, but to the independent tester.” There’s lots of precedent for this, including the POSIX operating system standards. Apple was late to the POSIX game, but eventually did go through POSIX conformance testing.

      October 7, 2022

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