Apple’s iMessage issue is much bigger than the color of the bubbles

Apple’s iMessage wants to start out trying past the iPhone.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple’s iMessage has a protracted historical past of separating folks into “blue” and “inexperienced” bubbles based mostly on whether or not they’re utilizing an iPhone or Android telephone. However that drawback is now far greater than trying cool in our group chats.

Final week, the Wall Road Journal revealed a narrative detailing how this distinction between inexperienced and blue chat bubbles has brought on social stress amongst teenagers and younger folks. The blue and inexperienced bubble debate highlights a broader drawback all through the trade: There isn’t a single, trendy texting customary that works throughout all telephones. Wealthy Communication Companies, or RCS, is the closest different. 

Google has been championing this messaging platform, which is full of iMessage-like options reminiscent of typing indicators and browse receipts, by working with carriers to make it the default choice on most Android telephones. It is a step ahead in making messaging extra uniform throughout the wide range of Android units that exist. However it nonetheless would not repair the difficulty highlighted by the Journal of bettering compatibility between the iPhone and Android telephones.

As one of many greatest gamers within the cell phone trade, Apple might undoubtedly be doing extra to assist set up a extra constant texting expertise throughout units. However the query is whether or not doing so is within the firm’s curiosity. Apple usually touts its management over iOS as a promoting level for shoppers, and shifting away from iMessage might jeopardize that. 

Apple has not but responded to CNET’s request for remark, and Google pointed us to a lot of tweets from Hiroshi Lockheimer, its senior vp for Android, through which he criticizes Apple for utilizing “stress and bullying” to lock in customers. 

Nonetheless, there are a number of adjustments Apple might make to handle this situation, just like the way in which it introduced a restricted FaceTime expertise to Android and Home windows customers in iOS 15.

Supporting RCS in Apple’s Messages app, even a bit of bit

Beginning with the obvious, it could be time for Apple to think about RCS help in iOS 16. Along with RCS together with many iMessage-like options like typing indicators, enhanced group chats and encryption, Apple does have a historical past of adopting open codecs after they’ve spent a number of years creating. 

As an example, Apple didn’t race into the wi-fi charging house and as an alternative waited for the Qi customary to achieve widespread adoption earlier than integrating it into the iPhone 8 and iPhone X in 2017. It even meant to construct its personal Qi-based AirPower wi-fi charger, however as an alternative held again till 2020 to promote its personal MagSafe wi-fi chargers.

Apple would not even have to present RCS a full endorsement to make a distinction. It might preserve non-iPhone messages inexperienced and lean on iPhone-exclusive options like Memoji, which makes use of the iPhone’s Face ID to create facial animations, to maintain Apple loyalists hooked. However supporting a number of key options would go a great distance in permitting for a smoother communication expertise whereas retaining a level of that Apple exclusivity.

It might additionally permit for encryption between messages no matter platform, particularly since Apple has been a public defender of person privateness. One would purpose that this alone ought to have the corporate embracing RCS. 

Enhance how Apple’s Messages app sends and receives SMS


Apple’s iMessage contains a number of enjoyable animations which can be invisible to anybody who is not utilizing an iPhone in your group chat.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

If supporting RCS is just not going to occur in iOS, Apple might as an alternative make certain its Messages app is profiting from the restricted bandwidth out there inside SMS and MMS. 

Maybe when pictures and movies are despatched over MMS, which was by no means designed for the double- and triple-lens cameras on telephones we’ve as we speak, Apple’s Messages app might proactively recommend sending an iCloud hyperlink as an alternative of a grungy compressed image that now seems unrecognizable. This might work equally to a characteristic that is at present in Google Pictures, the place you’ll be able to choose a lot of pictures and generate an internet hyperlink to share with your folks or relations. 

And maybe, just like how Apple just lately introduced a model of FaceTime to the net for Android and Home windows customers, perhaps it might create a model of iMessage that’s viewable on the net. This might profit its current iPhone clients who want to entry iMessage from a Home windows PC or Chromebook, whereas additionally permitting Android telephone homeowners to view messages and different shared content material the identical approach an iPhone person would. This concept would nonetheless be annoying for Android customers, however it’s higher than receiving texts out of order throughout fast-flowing group chats. 

Construct iMessage for Android

One of the shocking revelations from final 12 months’s Apple vs. Epic trial was that Apple had mentioned constructing an iMessage shopper for Android again in 2013. However Apple executives handed on the thought over issues concerning the competitors. The opportunity of Google shopping for WhatsApp anxious Apple, and the corporate additionally feared that bringing iMessage to Android might make it simpler for iPhone homeowners to change to Google’s telephone platform, because the WSJ story identified. 

However a lot has modified within the years since, together with Fb’s buy of WhatsApp as an alternative of Google. Though Apple has opened up a few of its merchandise like FaceTime, it additionally depends on its companies to lock in iPhone clients.

However, bringing iMessage to Android might as an alternative draw extra clients to Apple’s iPhone ecosystem. It is a technique that labored approach again within the 2000s, when launching iTunes on Home windows significantly elevated the client base for Apple’s music retailer. Positive, it would persuade some iPhone clients to leap ship and change to Android. However it might additionally assist Apple attain a wider viewers by exposing Android customers to its services.

What do you consider iMessage’s inexperienced bubbles? Would you need RCS to come back to the iPhone? Or would you moderately everybody you recognize simply use iMessage? Discuss it within the feedback.

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