Last week, the world watched as Apple announced its new phones. As silly – but no less intriguing – as the dynamic island is, the iPhone 14 series fails to solve one of the biggest problems with modern smartphones: messaging. A day after Apple’s keynote, Tim Cook took the stage at Vox’s Code Conference, confirming the company’s position on RCS: it’s not interested, and if you want to send hi-res video to your mother, you better buy it – or yourself. – an iPhone.
After months of increasingly desperate pleas from Google, this solidifies the state of cross-platform messaging as a disastrous mess in the United States. Cook’s comments are a spit in the face, not just for Android users, but for any iPhone user who wants to text their friends without worrying about blue and green bubbles. That’s why it’s finally time to push your iOS-based friends and family to ditch their blue bubble group chats and switch to a third-party chat platform.
Let me say this upfront: This issue is absolutely a US-centric issue. I am fully aware that iMessage has next to no importance in most of the rest of the world. It’s a problem that originated more than a decade ago, when US carriers included SMS for free while other countries continued to charge additional fees, creating the conditions for services like WhatsApp to gain popularity all the time. while remaining a tiny player in the United States. Unfortunately, I live in the United States, so this fight is all I know. For those other US-based readers – Android and iPhone users – it’s time to unite and follow the lead of the rest of the world. If persuading Apple to adopt RCS doesn’t work, you need to persuade your friends to download a new app.
Make no mistake, this will be an uphill battle. iPhones are immensely popular in the United States, and that user base is only growing. iMessage isn’t just a crucial lockout feature — it’s also a way to trick people into ditching Android. Tim Cook said it himself on stage this week: if you’re tired of receiving or sending low-res videos, if you’re tired of group chats breaking, if you’re tired of be called a ‘green bubble’, Apple’s solution is for you to buy an iPhone.
And I hear you. You’ve been there before. You tried it in 2012 when you persuaded your family to jump on Hangouts. You tried again in 2016, convincing some of your friends to download Allo from the App Store. You both call them the future of messaging. And in both cases, you were wrong.
Now that Google seems to be sticking with an email service — and a decent one at that — it’s disappointing to throw in the towel. RCS isn’t perfect, but it’s as close to the “iMessage for Android” people have been asking for for years. It works with your phone number, supports almost all Android devices, and is virtually automatic. But outside of the US, 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 we’ve faced for a decade: interrupted group chats and a lack of modern messaging features. Without some sort of forceful intervention – whether from the government or carriers – Apple won’t be adding RCS support to iMessage for the foreseeable future.
So it’s time to ditch the dream and make a last ditch effort to switch your friends and family to a cross-platform chat service. Luckily, countless messaging apps are widely available on both app stores. If you don’t mind using Meta products, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram are here. Your mom is probably on Facebook anyway, so persuading her to text you through Messenger won’t take much effort. Don’t want to give Meta access to your life? Sign up for Signal. I’ve been using it for a few group chats for a few months, and it’s been great. It’s basic enough that anyone can learn how to use it, even those who’ve only used iMessage since the days of slide-out QWERTY keyboards. Invite your friends to hop on Discord or Telegram. All of these platforms can be accessed on iOS and Android and can also sync with web or desktop clients. Basically, they’re established – unlike Hangouts and Allo, they’re not going anywhere.
This is a difficult work. It’s boring. You will essentially have to nag and persuade the people closest to you in your life, all in an effort to solve a problem over which we have little or no control. But that’s just it – we can bring about these changes in our social circles simply by begging our friends and family to download one latest messaging app. And the timing is perfect. More than ever, iPhone users seem to be aware of Android users’ messaging problems and might be willing to change their habits to avoid future headaches. If there’s a benefit to Google’s ongoing campaign, here it is.
So, one last time. Apologize to your loved ones for making them try Allo all those years ago – honestly, they deserve that apology (Allology?) – and promise them this will be your last call. No future apps, no Google ads. Jump on WhatsApp, Signal or any app of your choice and leave the green bubble conversation in the past. We’ll all be better off.
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