iPhone owners will not get the SMS successor RCS in the foreseeable future. At the Code Conference 2022, Apple boss Tim Cook responded to the request expressed by users and above all by Google. Cook performed alongside Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and former chief designer Jony Ive.
In a question and answer session, Cook was asked that iPhone users have no technically up-to-date way of communicating with owners of Android devices without the help of another messenger. In this specific case, the questioner said that he would like to send a video from his iPhone to his mother, who has an Android smartphone. In addition to its own iMessage service, which only communicates with other Apple devices, Apple’s messaging app only supports text messages that are getting on in years.
“Users don’t want us to put energy into it”
Cook’s response was simply to advise the questioner to buy his mother an iPhone. He rejected the questioner’s suggestion that Apple introduce the cross-manufacturer RCS standard, which was strongly promoted by Google: “I can’t imagine that our users would ask us to put a lot of energy into it. I’d like you convert to an iPhone.”
The Rich Communication Standard (RCS) enables, among other things, group chats and data transfers – i.e. functions that are known from messengers such as WhatsApp and Signal. There’s also an indication when the far end is typing and the ability to transfer images and videos. In contrast to the individual apps, however, it is an infrastructure-based service.
Google keeps teasing Apple, most recently in an ad campaign asking Apple to fix what’s called “texting” in the US. RCS critics point out that end-to-end encryption is not firmly implemented and that mobile network operators, who have long made a lot of money from SMS services, have great influence.
Performance with Jony Ive and Laurene Powell Jobs
Cook’s appearance was actually intended to collectively remember Steve Jobs and his influence on technology and culture. The prominent guests came in honor of the journalist Kara Swisher, who has been moderating the conference, then known as Recode, for many years and who, along with other big names in the technology industry, has also hosted Jobs several times. Even more than a decade later, quotes from his performances are still used in reports.
The commemoration round was also about one thing. Twelve years ago, for example, Jobs mentioned data protection as a special concern. “Steve instilled the importance of privacy in the company from the very beginning, and that importance has only grown with each passing year,” recalls Tim Cook. At Apple, the idea prevails that data protection is a fundamental human right that must also and above all be applied in the digital world.
Importance of privacy
“We’re seeing a world where privacy takes a back seat and there’s some kind of surveillance mode everywhere, a world where people start doing less and thinking less. They start changing their behavior because they know that they are being watched. And this is not a world that any of us want to live in,” said Cook, assessing the current situation.
Cook, meanwhile, defended Apple’s own business with ads in the App Store search. A study recently showed that Apple’s privacy efforts with App Tracking Transparency have meant that Facebook’s and Google’s search ad business is shrinking while Apple itself is growing. “We never said digital advertising was a bad thing,” Cook said. “What’s not good is siphoning off people’s data if they don’t do it on an informed basis.”
Other topics included the importance of design and the current geopolitical situation. According to Jony Ive, whose collaboration with Apple officially ended in the summer, it wasn’t just economic interests that motivated him and Jobs to show great attention to detail. Rather, it was a matter of valuing people, whereas neglect in favor of higher income represents contempt.
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