Sorry, America! iMessage coming to Android won’t solve the real problem: Don’t let Nothing fool you

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Sorry, America! iMessage coming to Android won’t solve the real problem: Don’t let Nothing fool
Almost exactly a year ago, in December 2022, a company by the name of Sunbird announced the Sunbird app, claiming it will finally make it possible for Android users to use iMessage on Android “as if” they were texting from an iPhone. Even better, Sunbird promised to make this happen without the need for an Apple device, which you’d normally need to set up this workaround solution.

Fast forward to today, Sunbird’s sneaky concept is fully embraced by another start-up company, which you might already be familiar with - Carl Pei’s Nothing. How? Well, by the looks of it Sunbird has helped Nothing create Nothing Chats, a messaging app debuting on the Nothing Phone 2 in the near future - that is if the "bugs" delaying the launch aren't dealt with.

Nothing Chat’s promise and the formula for a seamless iMessage integration remains the same as Sunbird’s, but the two still seem to be two different apps:

  • Connect Nothing Chats to an Apple ID (which Android user can create even without an Apple device)
  • Send and receive blue bubble (!) iMessage texts to/from other iPhone users
  • Create and take part in iMessage group chats from your Android phone
  • Send and receive full-res media such as photos, videos, GIFs, etc.
  • See typing indicators (when someone is typing) from your Android device, and more (below)

But perhaps the most important part of the premise you might like to be familiar with (before my deep-er, more personal dive), is that Nothing and Sunbird seem to be painting themselves as the heroes coming to save the day, punching a sizeable hole into Apple’s sturdy “Blue bubble - Green bubble” wall that’s kept Android users away for ages.

Now that Apple has promised to bring RCS support to the iPhone via an update (coming some time in 2024), the plot becomes even more interesting… Was RCS ever the cause of the problem amongst Blue iPhone and Green Android users in the US? Or is there another problem that needs to be addressed? Or perhaps the time has come, and soon iMessage will be cross-platform just like WhatsApp?

Really… Who is the bad guy here?!

Adding iMessage to Android and Nothing Phone 2 behind Apple’s back and Apple’s adoption of RCS won’t solve the “Blue vs Green bubble problem” in the US

I rarely come into a story with such a personal tone, but this is a peculiar topic that (I believe) has little to do with tech and smartphones. Yet I think I should talk about it, because… it has a lot to do with tech and smartphones.

We’ve heard the stories… People in the US (particularly teenagers but not only) tend to feel “pressured” into buying/switching to iPhone to make sure they fit in - reportedly, nearly 90% of US teens are iPhone users.

And Apple makes it very clear - when typing from iPhone to iPhone, your messages show up as a blue bubble. When typing from Android to iPhone, you are a “green bubble” that gets the “green bubble treatment”, which can manifest itself in bullying (if you’re a teen in school), or an adult who’s being ignored/excluded from chats. Apparently, no Android user in the US is safe from the Green bubble curse.

And call me insane, but as someone who doesn’t live in the US, I honestly struggle to believe iMessage running/not running on Android can/will change the fact that people’s values, ideas of acceptable behavior, communication, and real connections and relationships are fundamentally broken. Whether you’re American or Martian.

To put it plainly, and I can’t believe I need to be saying this, but if someone doesn’t want to communicate with you over the color of a virtual bubble, we need to be having an utterly different conversation. Perhaps one about society - how we’re incapable of keeping up with the increasing power of the computers in our pocket, and cyber discrimination. Rather than iPhones/Androids.

And just so I don’t look like the cigarette-smoking European who’s “too chill to get it”, rest assured - I think I do…

When I was growing up in Eastern Europe, where smartphones weren’t exactly ubiquitous at the time, the closest thing to the Bubble discrimination (let’s call it what it is), were brands. Are you the kid wearing Nikes? You’re cool. Are you wearing unbranded shoes? Not so cool. Do you even know what we’re talking about when we say “Converse”? You don’t?! Don’t be a loser!

And as a teenager, situations like these can seem like the end of the world. But whether you’re a privileged teenager or an ignorant adult, choosing to behave this way over an emblem, or the color of a virtual box seems like a “you problem” to me.

Perhaps we should let these people take the time to realize how ridiculous the bubble thing is, and self-correct. Notice, I don’t say “cancel them”, because that’s something else we do very easily nowadays, which is ironic… You’d think woke people would be a bit more woke in situations that actually require it, no?

Apple vs Google vs Nothing in the iMessage - RCS feud: No one truly cares about you and how the Green bubbles affect your life - phone-makers want your attention

Of course, there’s another perspective to the Blue bubble / Green bubble topic, which some people (rightfully) cling onto - isn’t this all Apple’s fault? Is this just another consequence of Cupertino’s famous Walled garden?

And while I certainly can’t say Apple isn’t responsible, I do want to make it clear that Google and Nothing aren’t the savior angels that just want you to have RCS or iMessage on your Android phone, because it’ll make you feel better either. All that phone-makres want is your attention and your presence on their platform(s).

Can you really blame them? I suppose you can say they are greedy, but that’s what happens when you’re running unfathomably large businesses. In fact, wanting to be on top is part of the reason you’re there (or close) in the first place. Am I wrong?

What you can do is hold them accountable; protest with your wallet; and try to educate yourself and control your reactions to the methods they use to attract you.

Is the iMessage Bubble war Apple’s fault, and will the iPhone’s adoption of RCS solve the most ridiculous problem Android users keep running into when messaging an iPhone?

To make one thing very clear, the fact that Apple caved in and decided to adopt Google’s RCS texting standard (in 2024) is a true game-changer. But only to a point.

To put it in very simple terms, RCS is pretty much the more modern version of SMS/MMS 90s kids are very well familiar with. Compared to texting today, SMS and MMS were a pain in the rear. For example, MMS allows media sharing but ruins the quality of images/videos, and more importantly, SMS/MMS rely on cell connection to work.

This makes texting between Android and iPhone feel ancient. So, yes, even today, Apple is basically sending Android users back in the stone age by not switching to RCS. But, of course, when it comes to iPhone to iPhone texting, none of this really matters thanks to… iMessage. The forbidden (for Android) Apple (pun intended).

Was iMessage part of Apple’s evil plan to turn iPhone into the “90% market share monopoly” it is amongst US teenagers?

To be clear, I strongly believe Apple’s initial idea behind iMessage most certainly wasn’t to “lock iPhone users in''; keep everyone else out; build a monopolistic platform, etc. Of course, I can’t vouch for that but you know… Just an educated guess; maybe an opinion; perhaps I’m delusional - who knows…

However, it just so happens that 2008-2012 saw a big boom of the launch of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, and Apple wasn’t going to be the modern smartphone pioneer to sit back and watch from the sidelines.

The result of Apple’s action plan was iMessage (debuted in 2012), which like virtually any other piece of Apple software/hardware is very much iPhone/iPad/Mac exclusive, because… IDK. Tim Cook is a control freak, or it really helps Apple products work better?!

Regardless, here’s the (silly) obvious question… What's exactly shocking here? It’s what Apple does. AirDrop doesn’t run on Android (I mean, I don't even think it can); Final Cut doesn’t run on Windows, and (thank God) Siri doesn’t run on my Pixel 8 Pro, because Google Assistant is a million times better. But iMessage isn’t even close to being a million times better than say... WhatsApp.

That being said, I do believe that seeing the competitive advantage iMessage brings to the American Apple table (still smaller than president Putin’s), Apple surely realized it has a special sauce on its hands. And as the most valuable company in the world, you can bet Apple will try not to share this sauce with anyone (read: Android) at all cost; for as long as possible.

RCS on iPhone is a huge win for everyone but iMessage on Nothing Phone 2 isn’t helping Android users too much in the Bubble war - it helps Carl Pei’s Nothing make a marketing splash

Video Thumbnail

RCS on iPhone will be incredible to see but let’s go back to Carl Pei, and Nothing Chats for a moment…

Speaking of motives, what about Nothing’s move to create an official (but not approved by Apple) iMessage port for the Nothing Phone 2? Is this Carl Pei trying to help Android users climb over the Apple garden? Or is it something else?

Call me crazy but I say Carl Pei & Co wants exactly what Google, and Samsung want - to be more competitive, and pull Apple users in. In fact, Carl Pei, said it himself in the explanatory video Nothing released on the topic (attached above).

Yes, Apple’s “locked” services might hurt competitiveness (they most certainly do), but what is Nothing’s CEO trying to do? Get the same competitive advantage over OTHER Android phones and attract Apple users in the process.

But here are a few more giveaways that iMessage on the Nothing Phone 2 likely is one of Carl Pei’s marketing campaigns:

  • By far the most viewed video on Nothing’s YouTube channel remains CEO Carl Pei’s review of the iPhone 14 Pro. While reviewing your competitors' products in public might seem strange, this is Pei’s clever way of marketing the Nothing Phone for iPhone users. Still, he seems to maintain a friendly, fair assessment of Apple’s flagship phone. But don’t let this fool you - as every competing CEO, he would do just about anything to see you make the switch from iPhone. And now he’s doing it with Nothing Chats.

  • Nothing just launched in the US, where the whole iMessage/Bubble thing is key to winning marketshare, especially in the teenage demographic, which is more important than you realize - the teens with iPhones today will probably be iPhone users forever, so if you can “steal” them now, you better do it soon…

  • Nothing’s iMessage port is coming only to Nothing Phone 2 - not the Nothing Phone 1, which looks like a clever salesmanship move to me

  • Given his history at OnePlus, Carl Pei knows conventional marketing (especially when it comes to a new phone made by a start-up) isn’t enough to win against the big dogs

All in all, you’ll have a hard time convincing me there’s one party in the iMessage conflict that doesn’t have ulterior motives. Quite the opposite. There are no good/bad guys. There’s a piece of pie that Apple's been eating for years now (the US market - teenagers in particular). Meanwhile, Google & Co are getting hungrier by the day, and they want to get their hands on some of that pie. But Apple isn’t ready to share.

Bringing iMessage to Android won’t help Android win over iPhone users

But what do you think… Now that RCS is coming to the iPhone, will Android win by “stealing iMessage” from Apple, and magically attracting all of Apple’s users? No, of course it won’t.

It’s striking how some people (on the internet) believe iMessage is the only reason people buy the iPhone. For example, I use an iPhone 15 Pro Max right now, and I don’t even use iMessage (because #Europe). I use the iPhone because it’s reliable; it gets software updates for years to come, the cameras are some of the best out there, the battery life is tremendous, etc.

Don’t think that bringing iMessage to Android solves any real problems we might have in society, or you might have in your friend circle. Not to mention, even if iMessage was to be allowed on Android phones outside of America, it’s highly unlikely it’ll make a huge difference to iPhone, let alone Android users…

Will Apple bring iMessage to Android, eliminating the need for sneaky workarounds? The EU might solve the pettiest tech feud in the US sooner than expected

But will Apple ever bring iMessage to Android, or is the EU the only one who can make Google’s wish for a “more competitive smartphone industry” come true?

Well, I might “blow your mind” now (after everything I said so far), but I do actually think iMessage will eventually exist on Android - in one shape or another.

The EU has been on a roll with pushing user-friendly legislation lately, and Apple’s decision to add USB-C to the iPhone 15 even before the EU’s deadline speaks volumes to the power of law.

Therefore, it might not be long until the European Union decides to challenge Tim Cook & Co yet again, demanding compatibility between Apple’s iMessage and RCS-supporting messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and Google Messages (or rather, Android).

So, Apple would definitely be reluctant to comply, and only do it when push comes to shove. But I think this day will come sooner rather than later. Until then, perhaps the EU remains America’s only hope in solving the cyber discrimination issues disguised as the “Green vs Blue buble” problem.

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