Just days after unveiling a new Android campaign that borrows heavily from Apple’s strategy, Google lashed out at Apple over its green and blue message bubbles. Now it’s asking for help.
Following a report in The Wall Street Journal that documented how “pressure to be a part of the blue text group” is guiding teens’ smartphone buying decisions, Google exec Hiroshi Lockheimer has taken to Twitter to lambaste Apple’s color-coded chat bubbles, calling them “a documented strategy” by the company that uses “peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products.” Google’s Android account also tweeted the story with a “bullying” reference.
The Journal report resurfaces documents from the Epic trial that outlined Apple’s resistance to expanding iMessage to Android. In a series of emails, Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller, and other Apple executives worried that “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.”
Numerous high school and college students were interviewed for the article, which described situations where iMessage kept Android users on the outside of social circles. In one instance, a girls’ sister “mocked her for exchanging texts with potential paramours using Android phones” calling the green bubbles “gross.”
In the report, Lockheimer said there are “no real technical or product reasons” for iMessage’s lock-in and urged Apple “to join with the rest of the mobile industry.” Google has tried numerous proprietary messaging platforms over the years, including Allo and Hangouts, but none have gained the kind of traction Apple’s iMessage has.
For its part, Google has recently updated its own Messages app to support iMessage interactions such as like and laugh. Previously, reactions would result in annoying texts repeating the message someone liked and cluttering up the conversation, but under the new system, emoji appear as they do on an iPhone.
Google also recently shifted to RCS (rich communication services) for Messages, which allows for many of the benefits of iMessage but without locking to a single device. Similar to SMS, it’s a more universal system supported by carriers.
Lockheimer followed up his criticism with a Twitter thread urging Apple to support RCS to “improve the experience for both iOS and Android users alike.” He also said Google is “happy to work with Apple to make RCS interop(erability) a reality,” though RCS support would benefit Google for more than Apple. That said Lockheimer’s tone was much friendlier following days of “great discussion.”
Public shaming aside, the iMessage platform is unlikely to change anytime soon. As evidenced by the Journal report, the system is working as intended and Apple has no reason to change it. RCS may be superior to SMS, but many of the features overlap with iMessage and it’s not end-to-end encrypted. Due to those reasons, we’re likely to see further lock-in as Apple expands its wearable catalog and leans into augmented reality-based services.
Update 1/11: Added more details.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.
Source : Macworld