Google accidentally confirms RCS isn’t coming to the iPhone until iOS 18

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Google is just as excited about RCS on the iPhone as we are—so much so that it can’t wait to tell Android users about it. In a new website promoting the benefits of Google Messages, Google accidentally teased the arrival of RCS on iOS “in the fall of 2024.”

The since-deleted reference (first spotted by 9to5Google) is a thinly veiled reference to iOS 18, which will arrive in September alongside the new iPhones. When Apple announced in November that RCS was coming to the iPhone “later next year,” we all assumed that meant it would arrive as an iOS 18 feature and now we have some confirmation of that.

The main question that remains is whether Apple will allow it on all iOS 18 phones or just the iPhone 16 models. When it announced RCS, Apple merely said RCS would “work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it will work with all older phones, though there should be no technical reason why it would be limited only to new devices, and it would be unusual for Apple to announce any feature exclusive to a new iPhone far ahead of its unveiling.

Google didn’t supply any details about specific RCS features in iOS other than it will bring “a better messaging experience for everyone.” Google is one of the largest providers of RCS through its messaging app on Android, so it makes sense that Google would be involved in the process.

Google notes on the page that RCS conversations between Google Messages users are “protected by end-to-end encryption,” which hasn’t been promised for iOS. While Google offers encryption within its own app, it does so with its own proprietary extension to RCS; Apple is working with the RCS consortium to build end-to-end encryption into standard, which will protect all messages send from the Messages app on an iPhone.

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