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Breaking Boundaries: Apple’s Supercharging SMS in 2024

5 minute read

By Pete Evia-Rhodes

Rich Communication Services (RCS) are transforming how brands communicate forever, but who will ride the innovation wave?


Apple is releasing iOS 18 this autumn, and it’s heavily focused on “messaging”. Artificial Intelligence integrations are going to be added into the user experience, providing you with recommended text, as well as making the experience more intuitive, and personalised.

More impressive than their A.I upgrade, is the U-turn decision to enhance iMessage. They’re going to upgrade the out-of-date SMS service into something similar to WhatsApp which has the Apple universe buzzing.

This new SMS has many different names, including “5G Messaging” in China, or “SMS 2.0” and “RCS - Rich Communication Services”.

This development isn’t entirely new either. Samsung has had RCS-enabled devices since 2012 in Europe, and 2015 in the US. Their challenge has been getting the networks and other handset manufacturers on board. With Apple’s announcement, the final piece of the puzzle is now moving into place.


  1. Read receipts: A true game changer, showing you when your message is read. Finally giving brands the ability to understand engagement rates and improve their communication strategy.
  2. Longer, more expressive messages, with the 160-character limit abolished. Finally.
  3. Typing indicators: Enabling you to see in real time if someone is responding.
  4. High-quality media sharing: Enabling the exchange of high-resolution photos and videos. Something which has the potential to eclipse WhatsApp and protect a brand’s high-definition imagery.
  5. RCS Messaging over Wi-Fi: Removing any need to have phone network coverage, and helping brands reach customers residing in notoriously poor areas of coverage. Lighthouse & windmill dwellers spring to mind.
  6. Larger group chats: With up to 100 participants included, so long as they’re enabled for RCS. A great feature in the P2P (Peer to Peer) space, and for businesses it will allow you to create community clusters of customers. Brands could create a direct channel with like-minded customers who share a similar interest. Or perhaps customers with whom you want to share new releases first.


Businesses can already use RCS for their Android customers. This isn’t a “new thing” as they’re currently on their 8th release. But Apple’s decision to get on the bandwagon, and their agreement to align with a ‘universal standard’ is amazing news for marketers, as it opens the massive iOS audience, and the ability to send RCS to everyone, regardless of the device they use.

Organisations like Sinch plug into your CRM stack today and send RCS messages to enabled customers, and standard SMS for all others. Brands like PSG, Picard, and Subway are making hay on Android already.

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Apple’s decision to enable RCS in iOS 18, means brands have the potential to engage Apple customers through B2C later in 2024. uSwitch reported that 47% of the UK mobile market was on Apple’s iOS system in 2022, so there will be a first-mover advantage and the establishment of a new strategy, just like PSG.


PSG uses RCS today to create a two-way communication channel with their global members through messaging.

RCS enabled PSG to build a deeper relationship with their fans. Sending a “Did you see yesterday’s game?” message to members who hadn’t been online, followed up with video highlights for those responding with a “No” resulted in 80% of members launching the video. A remarkable engagement rate, achieved through personalised, intuitive engagement, delivered through RCS.

PSG also use RCS messaging to ask members; “Who’s your favourite player?” and “Have you seen our new away shirt?” These flows are straightforward to design and fantastic for growing relationships with customers. By assessing the warmth of these members, supported by demonstrating value, PSG saw a huge take up of their Premium membership when positioned through RCS, with 50% of the members clicking the up-sell offer when presented. A 50% engagement rate for up-sell and an 80% video engagement rate are two powerful stats to think about for your brand.

Screenshot 2024-03-18 105453


Sinch recently shared a case study from a parcel delivery client who achieved a 99% guaranteed delivery rate. They achieved this high-performance thanks to acknowledging a 70% confirmed open rate on their messages via RCS’ ‘read receipt capability’. They stated that the read receipt capability which you don’t get with SMS today, gave them confidence that a delivery message had either been genuinely received, or if it hadn’t, they would take extra steps to reach the customer. This reduced inbound contacts from disappointed customers, and overall their total costs didn’t increase.

I can imagine this delivery company sending a follow-up email to the customer who hadn’t opened the RCS message, letting them know that they’d sent a text message, but appearing that they hadn’t seen it. This would have been an engaging subject line for the customer, building trust with the customer, and flipping a potentially distressing experience into one of surprise and gratitude – all while cleaning up their phone number list.

There are so many potential use cases for RCS within every business, but due to this new capability being so new, “you don’t know what you don’t know” as Donald Rumsfeld said in 2002. At this point, I suggest it starts with your business strategy. From here you weave in your customer insight and ambitions. This then formulates into actual use cases which are focused on customer outputs and actions which are tangible and clear. Once these are established and agreed upon, you can then understand what you have available today, and what you need to achieve tomorrow’s ambitions.


Then don’t hesitate to get in touch, and find out about the new “CRM Health Check” three-week work package, and other support available by emailing Pete at



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