Apple Brings RCS, Satellite Capabilities to the Messages App for iPhone With iOS 18

Apple unveiled iOS 18, the next generation of its operating system for iPhone, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 on Monday. Among many new features such as Home Screen customisation, Apple Intelligence, and Control Center improvements, the Cupertino-based tech giant also introduced two new features to the Messages app — support for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and new satellite capabilities. While the former was previously announced, satellite capabilities arrive as a way to let iPhone users stay connected with friends and families even in the absence of cellular connectivity.

Apple integrates RCS with Messages app

For years, Google and Samsung have urged Apple to implement the RCS standard in its messaging platform. RCS, which is backed by the GSM Association, is a messaging system considered to be the successor to SMS. Due to end-to-end encryption, it is more secure than SMS, offers support for high-resolution photos and videos, and shows chat indicators.

After not adopting the technology for a long time, the iPhone maker finally announced that it would integrate RCS into iPhone in November 2023. It has now made the announcement concrete by confirming iOS 18 will carry some RCS features.

Apple showcases RCS integration in iPhone
Photo Credit: Apple


However, Apple has not revealed what these features might be. In its press release, there is a single mention of the feature which states, “RCS (Rich Communication Services) messages bring richer media and delivery and read receipts for those who don’t use iMessage.” While this confirms read receipts and likely supports high-resolution media sharing, the rest of the features remain unconfirmed.

Messages App gets satellite capabilities with iOS 18

Another interesting feature being shipped with iOS 18 is satellite capabilities in the Messages app. It will allow users who do not have cellular reception to send and receive texts, emojis, and Tapbacks over iMessage and SMS. This feature will enable users who travel off-grid to still stay connected with their friends and family. This feature will be available on the iPhone 14 and later once iOS 18 update arrives.

Apart from these, the Messages app is also getting a new schedule messages feature that will let users send a text at any particular time. New animated message effects and formatting options have also been added with iOS 18.

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