RCS on iPhone has expanded its reach to more countries with iOS 18 beta 3

An iPhone on a blue and green background showing an RCS message conversation
(Image credit: Apple)

RCS support could be the biggest update to messaging on iPhone since the launch of iMessage, and while RCS (which stands for Rich Communication Services) isn’t yet available to everyone, it is now more widely available to iOS 18 beta users.

Following an initial but very limited RCS launch in iOS 18 beta 2, we’re now seeing RCS work with carriers outside the US in iOS 18 beta 3. According to 9to5Mac, the service has expanded to customers of Videotron, Telus Mobility, and Bell in Canada, Telefonica customers in Spain, SFR customers in France, and O2 customers in Germany. That’s on top of the existing support for RCS with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the US.

So, ultimately, this is still only a small number of carriers, but with the reach of RCS on iPhone now expanding beyond the US, there’s a good chance we’ll see it supported in the likes of the UK and Australia in the next iOS 18 beta.

That’s good news, and not just for iPhone users, as support for RCS will particularly benefit communication between iPhones and Android devices. It supports many of the same features as the likes of iMessage and WhatsApp, such as read receipts, GIFs, and the ability to share higher quality images than via SMS, but rather than being a separate app that both parties need to be using, it’s a messaging standard – so you can think of it as an upgrade to SMS.

The upshot is that even though Android users can’t access iMessage, they can still make use of advanced messaging features such as those mentioned above when messaging an iOS user, even when just using their default messaging app.

New Google Messages app

RCS on an Android phone (Image credit: Google)

RCS is getting even better

And in convenient timing, the RCS standard has also just been updated. The latest version (spotted by 9to5Google) includes the ability “for the message sender to Edit, Recall and Delete messages that they sent earlier for themselves and the message recipient”, as well as “enabling Replies and Reactions (including Custom Reactions) to sent and received messages”.

The update also includes the ability to report messages as spam, and there’s support for ‘Custom Reactions’, which likely means things like Genmoji and Photomoji.

Hopefully, this update will be widely available on Android soon, but unless you want to sign up for a developer beta of iOS 18, you’ll still have to wait a while to get in on any RCS action if you’re using an iPhone.

You can expect full RCS support to roll out globally with the finished iOS 18 release, likely in September – though sadly, even then, Android users will still be stuck with green chat bubbles when messaging their iPhone-using friends.

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James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.