After months of increasingly desperate pleas from Google, it perpetuates the state of cross-platform communication as a catastrophic mess in the US. Cook’s comments are a spit in the face, not only for Android users, but for any iPhone user who wants to text their friends without worrying about the blue and green bubbles. So it’s finally time for your iOS friends and family to ditch the blue bubble group chats and move to a third-party chat platform.
Let me say it upfront: this problem is absolutely American. I am fully aware that iMessage has virtually no meaning in most of the rest of the world. This is a problem that arose over a decade ago, when US operators made SMSs available for free, while other countries continued to charge additional fees, creating conditions for the growth of services such as WhatsApp while remaining a minor player in the United States. Unfortunately, I live in the USA, so this fight is all I know. For these US readers – both Android and iPhone users – it’s time to connect and follow in the footsteps of the rest of the world. If convincing Apple to use RCS doesn’t work, you’ll need to convince your friends to download the new app.
Don’t get me wrong – it will be a tough battle. iPhones are extremely popular in the US, and this user base continues to grow. iMessage isn’t just a key lockdown feature – it’s also a way to move away from Android. Tim Cook himself said it on the scene this week: if you’re tired of receiving or sending low-res videos, if you’re tired of interrupting group chats, if you’re tired of being called a “green bubble,” Apple’s solution is to buy an iPhone .
And I can hear you. You’ve already been through this. You tried it in 2012 when you persuaded your family to join Hangouts. You tried again in 2016, convincing some friends to download Allo from the App Store. You both called the future of messaging. And in both cases you were wrong.
Now that Google seems to stick to the messaging service – and a decent one at that – it’s disappointing to throw in the towel. RCS isn’t perfect, but it’s so close to “iMessage for Android” that people have been begging for for years. It works with your phone number, supports almost any Android device, and works virtually automatically. But outside of the United States, no one really cares about RCS. And even in the US, RCS needs Apple to adopt it. Otherwise, we’re stuck with the same issues that we’ve dealt with for a decade: broken group chats and a lack of modern messaging features. Without some strong intervention – be it from the government or carriers – Apple will not be adding RCS support to iMessage for the foreseeable future.
So it’s time to give up your dreams and take the final step so that your friends and family migrate to a multi-platform chat service. Fortunately, countless messaging apps are widely available on both app stores. If you don’t mind using Meta, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram products are there. Your mom is probably on Facebook anyway, so persuading her to text via Messenger won’t require much effort. Don’t want to give Meta access to your life? Register with Signal. I’ve been using it for a few group chats over the past few months and it’s great. It’s so basic that anyone can learn to use it, even those who haven’t used anything other than iMessage since sliding QWERTY keyboards. Invite your friends to jump on Discord or Telegram. All of these platforms are available for iOS and Android and can also be synced with web or desktop clients. Most importantly, they’re well established – unlike Hangouts and Allo, they don’t go anywhere.
It’s a hard work. That’s annoying. Basically, you will have to harass and convince the people closest to you in your life to solve a problem over which we have no control. But that’s just that – we can make these changes to our social circles by begging our friends and family to download the latest messaging app. And the time is perfect. More than ever, iPhone users seem to be aware of the problems with messaging Android users and may want to change their habits to avoid future headaches. If there is one benefit to an ongoing Google campaign, here it is.
So for the last time. Apologize to your loved ones for trying Allo many years ago – honestly, they deserve that apology (Allologia?) – and promise them that this will be your last appeal. No future apps, no Google announcements. Jump into WhatsApp, Signal or any app of your choice and leave a conversation with a green bubble in the past. We’ll all be better off.