If you’ve used an iPhone before, you’ve probably heard of iMessage. While you’re probably more familiar with it due to iMessage spam mail being in the news recently, it’s actually a pretty cool feature allowing you to message others using iPhones free of charge. However, most of us in Malaysia don’t really use it that much, due to WhatsApp and Telegram being the predominant texting platform of choice.
That being said, things are very different in elsewhere. In North America, texting is still a huge thing, with iMessage being one of the most popular ways to do so. That kind of puts Android users out of luck though, as texts sent from them appear in a green bubble on an iPhone, while iMessage texts appear as blue bubbles. This is because Apple reverts to old school SMS and MMS messages when sending and receiving texts with an Android user, changing the colours of the text box and sometimes even breaking some features too.
Google has been trying to change this. A big part of why someone in North America might end up with an iPhone rather than an Android is iMessage, especially if their peers are already using iMessage. Google though has adopted Rich Communication Services, or RCS for short, meant to be a successor to SMS and MMS protocols. RCS is a newer standard that is already on Android in the Messages app, and comes with all the modern features you’d expect from a messaging service in 2022, such as delivery and read receipts, location sharing and media attachments, which are all missing from SMS. RCS is actually available in Malaysia too, with Celcom the first to adopt it back in 2017.
Apple though has continued to reject switching over to RCS for inter-platform texting, instead keeping SMS and MMS—along with the green bubble. It’s this different coloured text bubble in particular that’s been a nuisance to Google; not only does keeping the SMS protocol mean needing to pay when you text someone, but for Android users, it also clearly tells the other person that you’re not using an iPhone. Students often use this to ridicule Android users, while the overall user experience is also worse off for both the Android and the iOS user.
Google’s latest stunt to push Apple towards adopting RCS is a page on the Android website called ‘Get The Message’ that straight up shames Apple over their refusal to adopt the more modern texting standard. They list all the negatives caused by Apple keeping the SMS protocol, such as no texting over WiFi, missing read receipts, low video quality, broken group chats and more. Google also points out that the issue affects iPhone users too, as their texting experience is also compromised by this. They then highlight various pieces of news articles that also talk about the texting problem caused by Apple.
Google isn’t alone in pushing for Apple to adopt RCS too. Just some of the big names to have backed Google include OnePlus and Cristiano Amon, the CEO of Qualcomm.
At @Qualcomm, we believe interoperability is a basic requirement of the telecom industry, creating better experiences for you — and better overall communications. Everyone should have great messaging, regardless of the device they use. #GetTheMessage https://t.co/Kgw1jEDjtC— Cristiano R. Amon (@cristianoamon) August 9, 2022
They end their post on the Android website by calling for Apple to ‘fix what’s broken’ by switching from SMS/MMS to RCS, which would improve the messaging experience for everyone. Google’s post also included a bunch of ways to tweet at Apple with the hashtag #GetTheMessage to rally public support for their cause. They would go as far to even recommend WhatsApp and Signal as alternative messaging options that, as Google puts it, don’t come with a broken experience. As to whether Apple will actually respond though, well, that remains to be seen.
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