Google has been trying to publicly pressure Apple into adopting the GSMA’s RCS (Rich Communications Service) messaging protocol for a long time now, with nothing to show for it. As a matter of fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to completely dismiss the idea when by saying that consumers should buy their moms an iPhone. Google and its Android platform aren’t giving up that easily and they’ve to continue criticizing Apple's preferred messaging platform.
The ad’s called “iPager” and mimics Apple’s marketing language to reveal a retro-styled beeper, indicating that Apple’s behind the curve with its chosen messaging platform. The spot states that the iPager uses “outdated messaging tech” to “text with Android,” citing many of the perceived disadvantages of sticking with SMS technology when communicating with Android phones. Google didn’t invent this comparison whole-cloth, as the 30-year-old SMS tech actually
Apple’s continued use of SMS messaging does hobble Android integration in a few ways, but the reverse is also true. Most famously, there’s the dreaded green bubble when texting an Android user from an iPhone. There are some feature-breaking bugs inherent to group chats between iOS and Android users and images sent from Android phones to iPhones tend to be rather pixelated. This is yet another side effect of those interoperability issues.
One-on-one RCS messages have been end-to-end encrypted since 2021, with group chats following suit just last month. iMessage texts have long been encrypted too, but only from iPhone to iPhone. Google’s latest ad shines an (admittedly slanted) light on the vulnerability consumers face when texting across operating systems, as those SMS texts aren't encrypted. Additionally, RCS text messages lose encryption when making the leap to iOS devices. It's anyone's guess why Apple should make this change and not Google, despite RCS being a more globally adopted standard.
This ad's unlikely to convince Apple to change anything, as it's only the latest salvo in Google’s snark campaign. Back in 2022, to pile on Apple and there have been plenty of other minor jabs at Cupertino’s expense at events like I/O 2022 We all know Apple is notoriously stubborn when it comes to adopting non-proprietary technology, especially if it views the change as unnecessary. No matter who's to blame, these interoperability issues are annoying for consumers and bad for data privacy. Maybe an antitrust case will get this sorted one day.