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The biggest updates coming to Apple’s iMessage and its Messages app in iOS 18 aren’t its AI emoji, Genmoji, or even the ability to send texts via satellite. It’s the ability to finally, finally schedule messages to send at a later date and time, as well as support for RCS, the next-gen messaging standard and replacement for SMS that will make texting with Android folks much less painful.

Though buried amid a slate of AI announcements and other user interface tweaks at WWDC 2024, these messaging features will have a significant impact on how people communicate every day.

For years, consumer demand for scheduling messages has led developers to create complicated and cumbersome workarounds, like apps that remind you via push notifications to send a text, for example, or solutions that only worked on jailbroken iPhones. The new iOS will offer the ability to schedule your messages to be sent later as built-in functionality.

The feature only got a brief mention at WWDC. In Apple’s press release, it was announced in the same sentence as the Tapbacks upgrade, which has expanded to include support for any emoji or sticker in iOS 18. Clearly, Apple doesn’t think “Send Later” is a feature worth spending much time on. But for anyone who runs a business from their iPhone — or people who only remember the important things they need to text while laying in bed at 3 a.m. — the new scheduling feature will be a much-welcomed addition. Beyond simply making life easier, like when you want to text someone across time zones without disturbing them, Apple’s screenshot suggests you could also use the feature to ensure you don’t miss sending someone a birthday greeting.

Of even greater importance, however, is the Messages app’s support for RCS, the messaging standard and replacement for SMS that will address many of the grievances of texting those Android users with a green bubble.

For a long time, Google has urged and campaigned for Apple to adopt the standard, which would improve the communication experience between Android and iOS users. The Wall Street Journal ran a report on the fight over the green bubbles and how blue bubbles are a must-have for U.S teens. While EU regulators ultimately decided that iMessage was not popular enough to be forced to open up and become interoperable with other messaging services, the additional scrutiny likely influenced Apple’s decision here — as did U.S. lawmakers’ interest in Apple’s shutdown of Beeper, a third-party app that brought iMessage to Android users.

Because of Apple’s longtime refusal to add support for RCS, texting with Android users meant no typing indicators or read receipts, broken group chats, and blurry photos and videos. It also meant that messages would not be end-to-end encrypted as they were on iMessage.

Unfortunately for Android users, Messages sent via RCS won’t be relieved of the green bubble curse on Apple devices according to screenshots on its website, which show the feature in action. Instead, the text box indicates in a light gray font that your texts with someone support both “Text message + RCS,” while the texts themselves are still green.

However, issues that make the Messages app a broken experience for Apple’s customers will be addressed, it seems, as Apple says it will support the standard later this year. The news, of course, only got a brief mention in Apple’s press release, where it noted that RCS would allow for “richer media and more reliable group messaging compared to SMS and MMS.”

Earlier reports indicated Apple intends to work with the GSMA to add support for end-to-end encrypted in the Universal Profile for RCS, but won’t support E2EE out of the gate. That’s likely why there was no mention of encrypted messaging in Apple’s announcement of RCS.

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