Why no iMessage for Android? Apple exec explains why the service is staying closed

Why no iMessage for Android? Apple exec explains why the service is staying closed
The days leading up to Apple's WWDC 2016 were chock full of rumors detailing what announcements we might expect from the conference. Some of them proved to be right on the money, like how Apple renamed Mac OS X to simply macOS. Others promised big, but WWDC came and went without seeing their fulfillment: such was the case for rumors that Apple was about to open its in-house iMessage platform to users on other operating systems – and Android in particular. While WWDC 2016 did indeed include a number of announcements revealing new functionality for iMessage and the Messages app, that cross-platform support was not among them. Now we're getting a little insight into why, as an Apple executive comments on the decision to keep iMessage an Apple-only affair.

Apple's rationale is apparently two-fold. One of its reasons seems a bit obvious: that iMessage is an attractive messaging platform (and one only getting more attractive with new features landing), and keeping access to it an Apple exclusive helps to some extent in driving customer traffic to the company's devices.

Earlier, we rationalized that perhaps Apple saw a roundabout way that iMessage could be some kind of “hook” helping to lure Android users to iOS; clearly, that wasn't what the company ultimately had in mind.

The other reason given for not opening iMessage to Android is a little less intuitive: iMessage is already big enough. The unnamed Apple executive suggests that the iMessage user base is so large (with a billion devices in service), that it's generating more than sufficient language data for any iMessage-driven artificial intelligence learning project that Apple might want to undertake – and adding new Android users wouldn't make that data any more useful.

While those explanations might not be great to hear, especially if your group of friends extends across platforms and keeping in touch right now is a bit of a pain, it's hard to fault Apple for its logic. If there's no direct benefit to expanding access to iMessage, why do it?

source: The Verge via Phandroid



1. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

i highly doubt anyone in their head is saying to their selves "I think i get a Iphone because of a texting app"

3. Nopers unregistered

It's obviously not the only reason, but it's one of them.

6. aikoo

Posts: 129; Member since: Feb 27, 2016

It's not a reason to get an iPhone but it's a big reason to not switch from an iPhone.

9. Carlitos

Posts: 668; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Surprisingly, I have personally witnessed people's reasoning for switching because of imessage, a even some instances where old iPhone users had to switch back to an iPhone because imessage did some shady stuff with texts

13. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

They got sued for it because it was shady crap. It is one of the main reasons people stick to iOS because most of the average consumer (slow ones) don't know how to deal with the under handed stuff.

15. Dingy_cellar_dweller

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

iphone might be a great phone but apple is a crap company

40. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

I would have to agree with that, they have been a crappy company since 2011-2012

22. zex999

Posts: 92; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

I wish this were true, but sadly I have witnessed this myself. I have seen family members switch to iPhone because of iMessage and Facetime, even after I had given them alternatives. It is a lot easier for older adults to switch to iPhone to talk to their nieces, nephews, grandparents or whomever then convincing a whole lot of them to download an app that you use. There are many similar apps Viber, Skype, Tango, Whatsapp and etc,. trying to get them to switch to one when you are using another is just hard. Google messed up royally by not unifying Duo and Allo into Hangouts and integrated that into Android. You would've instantly connected billions of users. That's what iMessage and Facetime essentially does, and sadly it works.

55. TBomb

Posts: 1485; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

That's probably where Allo and Duo will come into play.

57. zex999

Posts: 92; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

No Allo and Duo is still fail. As I said before. The apps need to be consolidated and integrated into Android or else it just another app among many apps that get lost in the shuffle. You have Hangouts, regular SMS, Allo, Duo that is just not efficient. Another thing, Duo and Allo have to be downloaded off the app store they are not standard nor integrated. Facetime and iMessage are just there.

25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

several years ago, lots of people getting BB just for BBM, lol... I guess they'll open it when their market share get plummeted just like BB, lol

2. aikoo

Posts: 129; Member since: Feb 27, 2016

First off, very well written Stephen. You hit the key points really and in this case the pros and cons for Android support is neutral. There isn't a big benefit for creating cross platform support. As much as I hate to say it and how much I'd love to use iMessage on my S7 edge, I side with Apple this time around.

38. magnanimus

Posts: 565; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Might I ask why you side with Apple on this? Cross platform messaging is a big plus for us consumers and I would love if Apple considered releasing imessages for Android.

53. JumpinJackROMFlash

Posts: 464; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

What a stupid analysis. Enabling Apple users to use iMessage to contact friends with android phones isn't a good enough argument? Typical Apple idiot trying to defend their greed and stupidity.

4. kiko007

Posts: 7493; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

I'm glad they kept iMessage in house. No need to overload your servers with unnecessary extras. Android has all of the third party chat apps iOS has, so it's fine they don't get it. If cross platform is a problem, use Facebook messenger or something. Apple isn't Google, giving software privileges to everyone.

5. Senthilg

Posts: 49; Member since: Apr 07, 2016

iMessage on Android might have helped in Apple Pay peer to peer payments integration and chat bots. I am surprised that Apple has not talked about Bots so far in WWDC!

7. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

This is one of the very things I came back to iOS. Works well. Like Whatsapp but 1 friend though it suck. One using Hangouts. One use ping Go Chat. Never could get everyone on the same page. Glad Apple keeping this service lock down. Good call. I know more people with iPhones anyways so this works great for me.

8. sissy246

Posts: 7112; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

If I wanted imassages I would have bought a iphone. No thanks

14. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

I'm still trying to figure out what's the appeal of iMessage. On Android I use Textra for SMS and hangouts for texting and calling over WiFi. Does it have anything to do with having a blue bubble instead of a green one?

16. bucky

Posts: 3785; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

It's the way it's built in, automatically recognizes other iMessage users, on a Mac, iPad and iPhones. Those are the biggies for me. Might sound like something small but once you get used to it it's honestly really good.

21. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

"automatically recognizes other iMessage users, on a Mac, iPad and iPhones" What's the benefit of that?

26. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

almost nothing, lol

45. AlikMalix unregistered

It automatically recognizes if you the other party has iMessage, if not it reverts to regular texting - it even identifies other iMessage users with blue bubbles and regular ones with green. So you can have all the benefits of iMessage with those that use it, but do not need to switch to another app to text with android users. If you don't know all the feature of iMessage, please do some research.

49. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Google Hangout also work like that, one message would get delivered to my web gmail page which has it integrated, my Android tablet and my phone. The chat is also persistent, meaning I could chat with my friends on the gmail web page, and continue the same conversational chat on my phone when I am having lunch outside. Anyway, too many chat program already!!!

39. magnanimus

Posts: 565; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

You use 2 apps for texting and WiFi calling, Imessages does both. And imessages arguably performs better than hangouts. And the very big plus is, a lot of people are readily available on imessages cuz it comes with every iPhone (unlike other apps you have to hope people downloaded)

50. TheOracle1

Posts: 2264; Member since: May 04, 2015

Errrmm no. Hangouts integrates everything if you want to set it up that way. It also shows all your contacts who are on Hangouts. I've never used iMessage, FaceTime or an iPhone in fact and I never will so I can't comment on how good or bad it is. But I use Hangouts heavily because it offers one thing no other chat app offers and that's a free phone number from Google Voice completely integrated into Hangouts. Free calls, free international roaming, free sms, free voicemail and dirt cheap international calls. Feature wise it destroys iMessage.

56. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Why wouldn't you use a product if it would be best suited for you?!

58. AlikMalix unregistered

@theoracle1 What you like about hangouts requires internet connection. That's the same with iOS - I can make calls with my iPad (no cellular chip) to anyone. I can text, facetime, audio facetime (it's like a regular call), all internationally, without a cost for SMS, and to regular phone nubmers without associating them with e-mails or another app or client... You use Hangouts for that with integraded Google Voice, I use Facetime, which is one forcetouch from an iMessage window --- how is that different? iMessage has ability to request location or pinpoint people you texting with (if they already sharing their location with you). You can also share your current location or allow tracking your movements with another iMessage user (in case you're planning on meeting up. iMessage automatically detects whether the other party is using iMessage or texting from Android and will let you text with users who dont have iMessage or an iOS device at all. Basically, I can use iMessage with you without asking you to install the app ---- This alone wins iMessage over any texting client.

60. TheOracle1

Posts: 2264; Member since: May 04, 2015

Let me repeat myself. Anyone, anyone, anyone can contact me on my PHONE NUMBER provided free of charge in Hangouts. I cannot contact you through iMessage or Facetime or anything else with voice or video. What don't you understand about that? In addition Hangouts functions as a regular sms, video and chat app. iMessage does NOT give you a regular phone number that anyone can reach you on. In order for me to contact an iPhone user outside of regular phone calls and sms I need iMessage or Facetime. Hence the overwhelming popularity of WhatsApp. You can't compare a cross platform app like Hangouts or WhatsApp to a friggin pabx system like iMessage. Period.

61. AlikMalix unregistered

Let me repeat myself. i do not need to switch apps to text you or receive texts with iMessage even if you don't have it. You said you can make internet calls with google voice, well I can make Internet calls with FaceTime audio. You can also make video calls with hangouts, I can do that with FaceTime. I'm not sure what solution you're solving by getting a free phone number with hangouts (which is actually with Google voice, but ok) but I already have a phone number you can contact me and with VoIP I can do exactly that without the need of signing up to any services like Google voice. It seems like you've found a solution for a missing feature on android, a problem I don't have on iOS.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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