Home / iOS / iOS 18 beta now lets you send RCS messages to Android users

iOS 18 beta now lets you send RCS messages to Android users

iPhone with iOS 18

Adam Breeden/ZDNET

iPhone users clamoring for a way to send rich text messages to their Android counterparts can now finally do so, at least with the right beta version and carrier. With the launch of the second developer beta for iOS 18 on Monday, the long-awaited RCS messaging option is now a reality.

With RCS enabled on the iPhone, your texts to Android users can include larger file attachments, higher-quality photos and videos, audio messages, read receipts, more types of emojis, and smoother group chats. But before you dive in, there are a couple of requirements.

Also: 6 reasons why iOS 18 makes the iPhone 16 a must-upgrade

First, you’ll need to install the latest developer beta of iOS 18 if you don’t already have it. If you installed the beta before Monday, you’ll have to grab the second one by updating the OS on your phone.

But, and this is a big one, do not install this beta on your primary phone or one you need for daily work and other important tasks. I’m running the beta on a spare iPhone that I use strictly for testing. If you want to install the beta, consider waiting for the more polished and less buggy public one due out in July. Even then, make sure you back up your phone before installing any beta.

Second, you must be on the right carrier. Though Apple has enabled RCS at its end, the carriers must also activate it on their networks. At this early stage, only Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile seem to have turned on the RCS switch, according to 9to5Mac and users on X. And even then, you may not yet see the option because it has only just started rolling out.

If you use one of the three major US carriers and have the latest developer beta, an option for RCS Messaging appears in the settings screen for Messaging. If not, just wait until the option pops up or your carrier turns it on.

Also: Here’s every iPhone model that will receive Apple’s iOS 18 update

Promised by Apple last year and top among the desired new features in iOS 18, RCS (Rich Communications Service) is a messaging standard released by Google a few years ago. Designed to replace SMS messaging, RCS is a more modern standard that can handle richer content.

Apple had long resisted the calls to enable RCS but finally gave in amid demand for greater interoperability between iPhone and Android. Until now, Apple users could send rich text messages only through iMessage. Any texts exchanged with Android users would be limited to SMS, thereby stripping out the rich content, or relying on MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), allowing certain types of media in a message.

Also: Apple Intelligence will improve Siri in 2024, but don’t expect most updates until 2025

If RCS is available on your iPhone, the message field will read: Text Message + RCS. You can compose a message that includes content you couldn’t send before RCS support — a high-resolution photo or video, an audio, or an unusual emoji. The same photos or videos, audio clips, emojis, and other rich content should then appear on the receiving Android device.

A public beta of iOS 18 is due out in July, while the final release for all iPhone users is expected to land in September. By then, most carriers who plan to support RCS should have activated it.

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