Google Launches Assault on Apple’s iMessage Abuses

Posted on January 11, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Android, Google, iOS, Mobile with 149 Comments

Google went public this week with its frustration over one of Apple’s strongest ecosystem lock-in strategies: the blue and green bubbles in its iMessage service. To be clear, this isn’t about getting Apple Messages on Android. It’s about making Apple Messages work with open standards and interoperate fully with the rest of the world.

In other words, it’s a great idea. One that Apple will never agree to.

“iMessage should not benefit from bullying,” the Android team tweeted a few days ago, kicking off Google’s public awareness campaign against Apple. “Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let’s fix this as one industry.”

“Apple’s iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy,” Google senior vice president Hiroshi Lockheimer wrote in a follow-up tweet that links to a recent Wall Street Journal article about Apple’s iMessage lock-in strategy. “Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing. The standards exist today to fix this.”

The solution and standard that Google refers to is the Rich Communication Services (RCS), a communications protocol that can replace SMS while providing the unique features of Apple iMessage to everyone. All Apple needs to do, Google argues, is make its in-house Messages apps compatible with not just iMessage, but with RCS as well. And it really is that simple.

For those unfamiliar with the green bubble/blue bubble thing, Apple’s Messages app differentiates iMessage-based messages from a user’s contacts by coloring them with blue conversation bubbles. Meanwhile, the unwashed masses on Android using inferior SMS are given green bubbles to highlight their inferiority.

And it’s real. When I switched to the iPhone recently, I was immediately congratulated for making the switch by three iPhone-using people—my son, my daughter, and a neighbor—because they immediately noticed the change in their Messages apps.

From Apple’s standpoint, there’s little incentive to adopt a standard when its own in-house technology works exactly as it wants, labeling non-Apple users as inferior. And iMessage lock-in actually came up recently in the Epic v. Apple legal battle, where documentation showed that Apple was dividing the world purposefully and saw no incentive in bringing iMessage to Android.

But Google says that misses the point. The green bubble/blue bubble thing harms Apple’s users too. After all, Apple constantly markets its belief that “privacy is a human right,” and many have argued that privacy means that it should bring encrypted messaging—one feature of both iMessage and RCS—to everyone, not just those rich enough to own an iPhone.

“We’re not asking Apple to make iMessage available on Android,” Google’s Lockheimer also tweeted. “We’re asking Apple to support the industry standard for modern messaging (RCS) in iMessage, just as they support the older SMS / MMS standards.”

Yes, Google has done a terrible job with messaging in Android, with a long list of clients coming and going over the years. Whatever. RCS works, it’s available now, and it should be the standard. On both Android and iOS.

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Comments (149)

149 responses to “Google Launches Assault on Apple’s iMessage Abuses”

  1. juan

    Thanks but no thanks. iMessage works fantastic. If you don't want it that's your choice.

    • j5

      Agreed, Google can say it's about conforming to a standard but we all know it's about taking a shot at Apple's iMessage. Apple created a better texting software before Google did, it's become popular and Google's upset that it's a big factor in people switching to iPhone or young people getting an iPhone for their first phone because they want to use iMessage with their friends.

      I think Paul brings up a going point about Google screwing up things with text messaging on Android. They've had plenty of time and several texting software apps to stick with and build up to COMPETE with Apple. Now they're trying to strong arm Apple.

      It gets winder on top of the mountain.

      • pwingert

        This comment makes me think of the old BB messenger days. I worked at a place where a small group of employees has BB Messenger, and the rest did not. I was excluded from several business activities (Impromptu meetings by BBMSG with managers) and real-time updates (Vehicle availability or coffee runs and off-site meetings) that affected the job I was doing (Car wrangling at a rental company for return wash) and found the group of people was given preferential treatment by managers and even their own facility to operate from while the rest of us (40 people) were left behind. A common standard would prevent this kind of elite mentality and behavior from developing in a company's culture.

        • SvenJ

          The thing there with iMessage, is no one is excluded. If who you are texting/chatting doesn't have an iPhone, it just goes as a standard (industry standard) SMS. Every phone has that. You loose end to end encryption, but that only works in RCS because of a Google extension, not because of the standard, and it doesn't work in a group chat. Group iMessage is encrypted. If your group needs/wants encryption and not everyone has an iPhone, there are numerous options for that. The different colored bubble is a visual reminder that there are things not supported, like encryption. If seeing a green bubble bothers you, you are childish as Google.

        • nine54

          I definitely understand the challenge, but initially there was a reason why BBM was closed: it relied on a PIN that was unique to each BBM user (and, originally, I think was tied to the physical BB device, I can't remember). Communication was secured over the BB network, which was kind of like a VPN over the carrier network. I think of it more like the Nextel push-to-talk messaging capability, but obviously with text. A nice advantage, too, was that you didn't have to give your phone number out. BBRY eventually opened up BBM to non-BB users, but by then, it was too late for anyone to care.

      • nine54

        Totally agree. Google completely crapped the bed with its own messaging efforts. Hangouts originally could show both "hangouts" and SMS, but then Google removed that and tried driving everyone to Google Messages. Then they started promoting Allo for about half a second before reverting back to Google Messages as their standard.

        Phone OEMs didn't help with each developing their own SMS app, but had Google had a cohesive strategy early on, they might have been able to convince OEMs to just use Google's app.

      • sofan

        Bro apple message is not popular outside US. Even in US iPhone has 45% market share, the rest is android. Whatsapp and massenger is the dominant massaging in the world.

        • nine54

          I'm not sure having a dominant platform controlled by FB/Meta is ideal. Sure, it's cross-platform, but there are downsides.

          • jdawgnoonan

            Exactly, I cannot fathom why anyone would use a Facebook product for messaging. I would rather use unencrypted SMS because it has no hidden features added by MetaFaceBag.

            • mikeharris123

              I would say in Europe about 80% of all my message’s are on WhatsApp.

              I was a paying WhatsApp customer before Facebook bought them, and I would love to see that deal rolled back, however unlikely that is.

          • wright_is

            Using WhatsApp is technically illegal in Europe, because it ignores GDPR and uploads all the user's contacts to servers in the USA (and now shares them with Facebook directly, something Facebook claimed would never happen, when they bought WhatsApp).

            It is certainly banned from company devices and private devices, where the company Exchange/email is installed and the business contacts are stored on the private device, in most of the Germany companies I've had contact with - the company would have to make a GDPR breach claim for each user that uploads company contacts to WhatsApp's servers, unless they had the written permission of each contact first.

      • wright_is

        If Apple had created better texting software, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Apple has created a solution for Apple users to communicate under themselves, and grudgingly normal SMS with other platforms.

        That isn’t a standard, that is what the Germans call an Insellösung (island solution). If it was a texting solution, it would irk equally well with all platforms.

    • _stevenelliott

      Did you read the article? Nobody is saying get rid of iMessage. It's about Apple supporting messaging standards so that people with Android can enjoy the same level of communication as apple users. iMessage can work on conjunction with RCS. It's not either/or.

      • juan

        Why should Apple mess with their system that works 100% rock solid for other vendors? This is stupid. I know, why doesn't Microsoft release a MacOS and Linux add in that allows them to run Windows software without the need of a Windows VM? Wouldn't that make the world a better place?

        Cry me a river Google

        • Donte

          They should not.

        • wright_is

          Because it doesn’t work rock solid with other vendors. If the other party isn’t using iMessage, you lose all the benefits of iMessage, when communicating with them. No encryption, no security. Features are missing, such as liking a message etc.

          If Apple integrated RCS into iMessage, when the recipient is not using iMessage, the message would remain secure and provide the missing functionality that is the current case.

        • camelot5

          You are missing the point.

          Google wants Apple to adopt RCS within their default message platform. No additional apps or anything, just build RCS into iMessage.

          They are still using the old SMS/MMS technology which does not offer encryption by default. RCS is an open standard, however Apple routinely disregards open standards.

          • SvenJ

            Well, sort of. RCS is a standard in that it is written down and you can follow it. RCS does not support any encryption. The point to point encryption it does do is Googles implementation. Google doesn't add group encryption which iMessage has. So what Google really wants is Apple to adopt their flavor of RCS, which is still inferior to iMessage.

            • JacobTheDev

              "is still inferior to iMessage" Google is not asking Apple to abandon iMessage, just to support RCS in the same way they support SMS. I can't believe there are so many people who don't understand this, Apple users are wild. iMessage would still exist in its current form, *plus* RCS fallback for users without iMessage. What's not to like about that? You'd only *gain* functionality from this, as you'd get red receipts and such from Android users.

              As far as Google's encryption, there's an API and documentation to support it, it's like a plugin. Yes, it's technically non-standard, but any company can choose to implement it anyway, and even if they chose not to, RCS is *still* an improvement over SMS because you get things like typing indicators, read receipts, higher resolution attachments, etc.

              What is with this elitism of "if you're not on iOS, screw you, switch to iOS"? Supporting RCS would be a benefit to both Apple *and* Google's customers.

              • LT1 Z51

                Most Apple users don't get this (and I say this as an iPhone user) because most Apple users are ignorant and naive. They just eat up whatever they are told and don't really "know" things.

                • macguy59

                  Why should an iPhone user care about RCS ? Hint: They shouldn't. This is Google holding their breath and stomping their feet because they are losing users

                • jason_e

                  Most iPhone users are ignorant ? Got stats on that. What about the average Android user ? Are they also ignorant or does using Android automatically make you smarter or more tech savvy ? does not. Why some people feel superior to others based on their phone's operating system just amazes me. I am going to assume you are ignorant too.

              • SvenJ

                "just to support RCS in the same way they support SMS". No, they want Apple to support Google's version of RCS, which is a departure from the standard, which is not ubiquitous across other OEMs and carriers. The likely outcome would be to prop up this version of Google messaging, not make RCS the next SMS.

          • juan

            And you are missing the point. Why should Apple do this? To help Google and Android. Give me a break.

            • nine54

              For Apple to care, iPhone users would have to be the ones demanding this feature because they want enhanced functionality when messaging with Android users. Otherwise, Apple has no incentive to help Android users.

            • wright_is

              They should do it for Apple users, who communicate with non-Apple users. At the moment, those communications are insecure and can be easily intercepted or spoofed. By using RCS, when the message goes to a non-Apple user, it would remain secure.

              • SvenJ

                It might be secure in some cases. If Apple were to support the Google implementation using Google servers, then PtoP messages would be secure. If they were to support the RCS standard, the encryption is only from user to server. The server owned by your ISP/Carrier. That is if the other end carrier supports standard RCS, and the two carriers agree on the standard.

            • IanYates82

              To help their own users who have to communicate with non-apple users

              Imagine if Google Docs refused to support Microsoft Word format and instead made everyone use RTF as the super old format they had in common. The Word format is documented so Google supported it for the good of its users who inevitably have to share with users using Word.

            • karlinhigh

              If Google would deliberately de-optimize their services on iOS devices, would you give them the same graces?

    • gorem

      this is so silly. Apple’s messaging system sucks for iPhone users because their “solution” for messaging Android users sucks. MMS even one-to-one from an iPhone is pretty unreliable. And I actually would like my messages to have modern features regardless of whether my friends and family bought the same brand of phone.

      why do so many Apple devotees defend decisions that don’t benefit them?

    • JacobTheDev

      That doesn't make any sense, this isn't about *replacing* iMessage with RCS, it's just about support RCS as a fallback, just like SMS is supported as a fallback. You'd be losing nothing, so to say "no thanks, if you don't pick iMessage that's on you" is ridiculous. It's *only* a win-win.

    • nobody9

      iMessages only work for iPhone users. Hence, failure!

      • SvenJ

        Well that's insightful. Visio and Project only work on Windows...failure.

      • jason_e

        Failure ? Nope. And it does work with Android. Maybe you do not get all the features but it works. As an iPhone user I do not get all the Google Photos features that come with Google Photos on Android. Does that make Google Photos a failure ?

    • ontariopundit

      This is all about Google's (& Microsoft's) numerous failures at messaging. They're trying to bully Apple (yes, one giant tech bully bullying another even bigger tech bully) into making their failed RCS into a success.

      RCS is a standard users did not ask for. It's also a standard they don't need. RCS is no better than SMS/MMS. I've disabled RCS on my Google Pixel because it's unreliable... Especially, and most ironically when communicating with other Android users who also have RCS enabled.

    • Waldo

      I think perhaps you do not realize that RCS would not replace iMessage; it would make it better. It would replace SMS fallbacks, so iMessage would continue to work like it does but you would have secure chats with ALL your contacts all in one app regardless of what device they have. Group chatting would also be better for everyone since RCS supports adding/removing people and renaming. RCS is a consortium-developed standard that every US carrier has now adopted. High time for Apple to get on board, for everyone's sake - including iOS users!

  2. darkgrayknight

    I'm not sure what all the anger against Google is here in the comments. Sure Google does not make a great messaging system and continues to wander around with multiple versions of this. I am not a fan of Google (or Apple). However any call for following standards is a good call, just like following HTML, CSS, JavaScript standards has created a platform for anyone to create and use.

    Being able to use the same messaging standard would be a major step forward for all users. There was a short period of time where multiple messaging platforms could connect between each other using the same messaging standard (Jabber, maybe?). If all messaging platforms used RCS, then end users would benefit with the same capabilities when communicating with anyone and on any platform.

  3. Donte

    From and article I read about RCS.

    " And it also raises the specter of privacy and security concerns, since Google is essentially sending an unencrypted message from your phone to someone else’s every time you send a message, along with your IMEI and phone number.

    And that’s the biggest issue with RCS Chat: Encryption. While Apple, Signal’s Open Whisper, and WhatsApp all offer end-to-end encryption when you send a message, Google offers no such promises for RCS Chat. Granted, SMS messages aren’t encrypted either, but a lateral move when it comes to security doesn’t exactly instill confidence."

    Ummm yeah NO THANK you....EVER!

    Don't get me wrong Apple will NEVER open up iMessage because they know how powerful it is when it comes lock in. I have tried to get my family to use anything else, Telegram would be my choice, so I can get messages when I am on Windows but none will do it. I wish Apple would have a web version that you could log into but they wont do that either.

    "for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing"

    This is funny!!!!!!!! Apple who we just learned secretly gave the CCP 250 billion to gain access to those markets despite their (CCP) massive human right violations and ZERO privacy in that country.

    Apple and Tim Cook are frauds when it comes to human rights and privacy. They are all about the $$$$$$$$$. They can ONLY use the privacy stance because they sell products and not ads.

  4. drprw

    There is actually inconvenience (I would not say harm) to Apple users that no one is talking about.

    I am part of a group text where everyone, except me, has an iPhone (and yes, grown people in their 40's called me out for it). One of the members of the group lives in a rural area with poor cell service, so she relies on WiFi calling/data at home. Because I have an Android phone, she cannot participate in our group texts when she is at home without cellular data (my Android messed up their iMessage only groove). This is because Apple does not allow RCS in iMessage, so it falls back on SMS which she cannot use with poor cell service. This is the only issue I've ever had. I could not care less if my bubble is green on their phones. But, this is an example of an Apple customer getting less than a perfect experience because of Apple- not because of Google. I would love it if everyone would just agree on a separate messaging system, like Signal, and we wouldn't have to worry/care about this anymore. I get a kick out of the number of comments these articles are getting across tech sites. It's definitely a hot button issue for some.

    • yoshi

      That doesn't seem like an issue that should rest on Google or Apple's shoulders. That's an issue with her cellular provider and their lack of service in her location.

      • SvenJ

        It's also a problem with the group. There are numerous chat options available that a specific group can turn to in this sort of situation. Most are cross platform and some are by Google, if that means so much. They are using a tool not right for the job and blaming the tool.

      • drprw

        Sometimes cell service is spotty. There is no [good] reason to not be able to use WiFi as a backup. Cell service could always be better but it has nothing to do with whether Apple should support a standard.

  5. oscar90

    Or, you can use a wastly superior messaging client like Signal on both iOS and Android and forgo Apples and Googles inferior ones.

  6. yaddamaster

    a bit rich for google to be complaining about bullying tactics after what they pulled with Windows Phone and the youtube app.

    whaaaaa, whaaaaaa, whaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

  7. wright_is

    I switched to iPhone recently, but nobody noticed it. I have only sent one iMessage message to my cousin in the UK, because they use WhatsApp, everybody else I communicate with uses Signal.

    How does Google feel about WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram & Co.? At least with iMessage, Apple and Android users can communicate with each other, without installing additional apps.

  8. JacobTheDev

    Great write-up Paul. I see a lot of incorrect information in the comments, so let me try to clear some things up...

    • Google is not asking Apple to replace iMessage with RCS. They're asking to support RCS as a fallback, exactly how SMS currently operates. iMessage would remain exactly as it is, with no feature loss, while gaining the ability to use RCS messages with Android users.
    • While RCS doesn't support encryption by default in the standard, Google's encryption implementation is documented for other developers to use. As such, RCS effectively supports encryption, if developers choose to implement it.
    • While RCS does not currently support encryption in group messages, it is being worked on. Additionally, SMS doesn't support any encryption, so even getting one-to-one encryption is a huge upgrade over SMS.
    • WhatsApp, while popular internationally, is not the silver bullet a lot of comments seem to think it is. WhatsApp is a single company, owned by Facebook. A single company should not be in that much control over communication. RCS is a better solution because it's an open standard. That means that you're not locked in to one provider, or even one app. You can switch from provider to provider, app to app, without having to have all of your contacts switch over to whatever new app you choose to use that week (while this doesn't technically exist at this point, there are APIs being worked on for Android that would enable this). This is exactly like email, where (if you have your own domain) you can move your address from provider to provider, app to app, without having to get everyone you know to switch to a new system. That's hugely empowering for consumers.

    RCS is only an upgrade over SMS, and I don't understand why anyone would argue against it. Worst case scenario, you gain some features that only get used on occasion. How is that something you can argue against? It's a win-win, with no downsides. Hell, if you don't like RCS at all, you can just turn it off! There's literally nothing to argue about, yet people always flood the comments on any RCS article with "JuSt UsE wHaTsApP," "nOt FuLlY eNcRyPtEd," "ImEsSaGe Is BeTtEr." People don't actually understand what RCS or how it works, and it's very frustrating.

    • LT1 Z51

      This should be such a "duh" thing you shouldn't have to write it but alas. People are just ignorant.

    • Bart

      Nice comment. Thanks. Cleared up some things for me.

    • pdhemsley

      For lots of people, and I suspect Apple, I suspect the thought process is:

      Does this benefit Google? Yes.

      Do I trust Google and/or want them to benefit? No.

      Does it really impact me that cross-platform messages are sent via SMS rather than RCS? Not really.

      Solution: do nothing.

      • Daishi

        Yep. Given their track record for being an awful company I’ve basically reached the point where if Google are advocating for something I assume it’s probably a bad idea.

    • SvenJ

      "As such, RCS effectively supports encryption, if developers choose to implement it." That's not quite true. RCS already supports encryption, but from user server (carrier/ISP). The carrier would have to choose to implement any PtoP or Group end to end encryption to be in compliance with the current standard. That would impact the carrier from harvesting information.

  9. nine54

    Anecdotally, this seems like more of an issue in the U.S. as consumers in other parts of the world of use WhatsApp or some other chat app regardless of the phone they use. That said, I have no interest in moving my messaging to any FB/Meta app.

    That Apple is fostering bullying through the green vs. blue bubbles seems like a stretch. Apple would argue that the different colors have a practical purpose: letting iPhone users know whether the chat will benefit from full iMessage functionality. And this likely is behind most of the "congratulations" and whatnot when Android users make the switch: iPhone users are just happy that they'll have the same messaging experience with you as they do with others. Is there a slight air of superiority? Perhaps, but only among tech enthusiasts. The average iPhone user isn't thinking much about this.

    And to me, this highlights one of the more frustrating things with Android. What "killer app" or feature does Android have that keep people on the platform? What capability does the platform have that rises to an iMessage-level of stickiness with the platform (hint: the ability to customize the UI does not qualify). And what benefits are realized between two Android users regardless of phone? Or, do they only exist within a particular phone manufacturers ecosystem?

    • jgraebner

      The "killer app" for Android is choice. An Android user can buy phones from a variety of different manufacturers with a wide range of features, sizes, and form factors at just about any price point. Apple does not even come close to matching this.

      As for advantages between Android users, why should anyone care what kind of phone someone else is using? If I call or message someone, I want it to work the same regardless of what brand of phone they are using.

      • SvenJ

        "If I call or message someone, I want it to work the same regardless of what brand of phone they are using." It does. You call from an Android phone to an iPhone it works just fine. And vice-versa. If you 'message' someone on an Android phone from an iPhone, it also works just fine, over SMS. (assuming both can get SMS text) It doesn't work fine if the iPhone user is using specific features of iMessage, but the message gets through. Conversely if the Android user is using Google Messaging, that's not getting through as anything but SMS either. People here who have Android phones, and Google Messaging, really need to read the help section under chat features in the Settings of that app to see what you get, and how you get it. RCS under Google Messaging is really not that different than iMessage. It is over WiFi and likely supported by Jibe Mobile.

  10. christophercollins

    F' Google. They have leveraged YouTube against Windows Phone & Amazon Firesticks. They only do what is in their best interest to get ad dollars.

    They bully people all the time. Their failure in messaging is their own fault. They should have made an end to end standard and stuck with it. Instead of sunsetting messaging app after messaging app.

    Cry me a river, Google.

    • trparky

      Exactly. Google has no one to blame but themselves. Nobody trusts if they're going to keep anything alive for more than a year based upon how many products and services litter the Google Graveyard.

  11. rob4jen

    I don't care about blue vs green because I'm not 14 but it's annoying to have different experiences depending on who you're talking with and what device they have. Most of my family is on Android but some key players (my wife included) prefer iPhone. So we've moved all of our close friends and family conversations to Telegram and that covers about 95% of our communication needs now.

  12. nbplopes

    I am very pro standards and I do agree that Apple should support messaging standards at the core as it does on many other levels. Simply because it would benefit its users when communicating with other users in other platforms.

    I honestly doubt that iMessage is such a lock-in. I for one, an avid Apple device users never crossed my mind as one of the reasons to stay within the Apple ecossystem.

    Due to this Google negative campaign against Apple and iMessage is silly, silly, silly. The tone should be entirely different given the objective.

    • MikeCerm

      If it has never crossed your mind, then maybe it is because you have never tried to leave the Apple ecosystem. If you did try to move over, you might say, "hey, why does the messaging app on this Samsung phone not let me 'heart' a message? Why do I keep getting text messages that say, 'John emphasized your message'? Why does it look like crap whenever anyone sends me a video message?" If you've only ever used iPhones, you might not know that these are issues that non-iPhone users experience. Just like, if you've only ever uses Android, switching to iPhone would be shocking in a lot of ways, e.g., why does the keyboard require pressing a button to access virtually all punctuation? Why can't I place icons on my home screen wherever I want? If you never experience the other platform, you don't really know what is good or bad about either.

      • nbplopes

        Well. I do use Android too. Maybe its because the EU there are more Androids than there are iPhones … or maybe me and the people I communicate with through SMS don’t use much more than a smile or cheers to go along.

        For group chats and all we tend to use other platforms, some of them mentioned here.

        I’m all pro enriching SMS or having something on the side like RCS or iMessage. But I do care for privacy … and until there is a default cross platform messaging that takes privacy and end to end encryption has default … don’t think my priority would be having nicer emojis.

        • SvenJ

          "and until there is a default cross platform messaging that takes privacy and end to end encryption has default" I can tell you, that is not RCS.

          • nbplopes

            I find it weird that a modern open communication standard does not come already with privacy artifacts in 2022 (encryption).

  13. Stabitha.Christie

    It’s worth pointing out that RCS has to be supported by the carrier as well. It isn’t enough for Apple to adopt it. Verizon just adopted it this month so even if Apple had included it before a huge number of people with both iOS and Android devices wouldn’t have been able to use it in the U.S. I have no idea what the adoption is likely globally but I’m guessing Google is overstating how much of a standard it actually is. That said, Apple adopting RCS would probably put a bit of pressure on carriers to also adopt it.

    I also think this amounts to a bit of tantrum on Google’s part. Bullying? Seriously? I use an iPhone. I don’t care what color a person’s text bubble is. I don’t think anyone is inferior. That’s just nonsense. The only relevance is in knowing that some features (sending cash via Apple Pay for example) won’t work.

    • karlinhigh

      "Bullying? Seriously?"

      Apparently it happens. See comments on prior article:

      CTRL+F for comment thread about "psychological damage"

      • Stabitha.Christie

        I presume that was sarcasm. If not, we are really in bad shape when a heavily qualified statement with no citation that was left in a comment section is now evidence of anything other than a comment being left.

    • jimchamplin

      A data protocol has to be carrier supported? Oh good night, really? It’s just zeroes and one’s being piped through the network. How did they screw up so badly that it requires the unreliable pencilnecks that run carriers to decide on “supporting” it?

      As an aside, cool name!

      • SvenJ

        Yes really. Your RCS message is encrypted to the carrier, disassembled, manipulated and forwarded on to another carrier (potentially) who has to also support RCS, and in a compatible manner (standards you know. Everyone has the opportunity to interpret). That is getting buy in but isn't ubiquitous. Google's way around that is to set up their own server network and route Google Messages (RCS) through that to bypass the 'standard' implementation of RCS, if(?) the carrier involved doesn't support it directly. If the carriers do support standard RCS, you don't get end to end encryption even PtoP, much less in a group. So what do you get? Read receipts, typing indicators, share better photos.

        • jimchamplin

          See, I thought the whole thing ran through Google's servers. I expected it to work more like iMessage, that it was carrier-agnostic, instead of being a carrier service. I thought that it might be well-designed!

          No, it's way more complicated!

          Google has their own version which does run through their servers when using the Google Messages app. The carriers can run their own version which may or may not have all of the features too, right? Am I understanding this correctly? If I'm using the Google Messages app, I'm using RCS via Google's servers? Or am I not?

          This "standard" can't be guaranteed to actually support all of the features between the lame carriers, it can't be guaranteed to even support the one damn feature that RCS is advertised to have - end to end encryption - thus making it, oh...

          ... not a standard.

          So what is this carrier "support" worth? If they can't even be made to implement it correctly, why are they even allowed to be part of it? As usual, they're completely pitiful and can't implement basic communication protocols correctly. They should simply be required to make sure that every feature supported by the phones they sell works correctly.

          • Chris_Kez

            Long story short, carriers could not bothered to actually roll out RCS, so Google got fed up and did their own implementation to jumpstart the process while trying to persuade carriers and manufacturers to get on board.

            • SvenJ

              Do think that is correct. As I've read, if you are using Google Messages, and both parties' carriers have rolled out RCS, it will use that. If not, it will use the Google bypass. I think that is how it is supposed to work.

  14. LT1 Z51

    If RCS is a standard, iMessages should support it. Period. It can be in addition to the current setup.

    Also the whole Green/Blue shit drives me nuts. I get it, they are different. But if everyone was green I'd be just as happy.

    • SvenJ

      Why? If so, shouldn't WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook Messenger then also support it? iMessage is Apple's messaging service. It happens to seamlessly fall back to SMS (an actual implemented, ubiquitous standard) if it needs to, without requiring the user to do anything. RCS is not at the point of being the standard vice SMS at this point.

    • macguy59

      Apple doesn't have to support it. Period.

  15. Truffles

    In other news, RCS allows carriers to charge usage fees.

    Not that that's relevant.

  16. ponyboys550

    Nothing worse than being thrown into a group message with apple and android users that you have no way of removing yourself from. You can silence the alerts, but if you move to a new phone number, the group would have to be recreated with your new number as you also, can not be added, and your old phone number would continue to receive those texts until everyone stopped using said group.

  17. dustinsherrill

    Keep my messages green. I like green. Green is my favorite color.

  18. robincapper

    I've never cared what colour Apple iMessage uses for my messages, even if Apple folks do.

  19. bluesman57

    I have a large family that mostly uses iPhones, and my son and I managed to strongarm everyone into installing Signal. Some of them weren't happy about it at first, but it's been about 3 years now and everything gets sent on Signal. Signal has added a LOT of new features in the last year.

  20. macguy59

    Abuses ? That's rich coming from a company that makes their money from shoving ads down your throat

  21. macguy59

    "unwashed masses on Android using inferior SMS are given green bubbles to highlight their inferiority". And who's fault is that ?

  22. jason_e

    Google becomes more of a joke by the day. And I hope Apple adopts RCS but continues to make those messages GREEN because that seems to be what bothers

  23. Jeffsters

    There are features and functionality in iMessage that don’t carry over to SMS so Apple has to differentiate somehow. When I see a green bubble I know a thumbs up will send a text version and a reply will be sent without the context. It’s important to know that and I refrain from using those and other features with a green bubble.

  24. ArcherETilmun

    Green bubbles on a someone else's phone is odd, but idc. The annoying thing is the amount of times I have to tell people to send me an icloud link to their video they texted me because apple intentionally doesn't support a standard that would allow for such things. But hey, at least apple only messes up sending sms' sometimes.

  25. Slawson79

    This coming from the same company that bullied Microsoft from making a high quality YouTube app for Windows Phone.

  26. red.radar

    iMessage still has a killer feature over RCS and that is how it sends Video. I send videos of the kids all the time of varying lengths but at native quality. RCS limits you to 100MB and the quality is not as good. This is nice because I don’t have to engage a third party social platforms to move the content.

    Its an inferior standard with an incomplete feature set. No thanks. Leave iMessage alone.

  27. ianbetteridge

    I think the thing that people are missing when they talk about RCS as a standard is the sorry state of support for that standard. There’s a reason that Google decided to run its own RCS servers: carriers are implanting it either poorly or not at all.

    those old enough to remember the days when carriers saw SMS as a great way of padding their margins by charging crazy per-message prices will remember just what the view of carriers is of messaging “standards” - it’s a way to lock in and exploit users for direct revenue.

    Will Apple ever support RCS? Sure: once two things have happened. First, mass adoption of RCS that’s not dependent on Google; second, building additional features into iMessage over and above what RCS offers.

    And of course, you can guess what colour RCS messages are going to be when they appear in Messages app. Clue: it ain’t going to be blue ?

  28. dftf

    For those of us who don't own an iOS device, and so never use iMessage, can anyone summarise what makes it so good?

    From what I can gather you can use it to send text-messages (which offer "delivered" and "read" receipts), do video-chat, do group chats, send files, react to individual messages, send your location, use "stickers" and your conversations are encrypted.

    Leaving-aside your views on the company who (thesedays) owns it, you can do virtually all of that in WhatsApp too. You can't react to a message (like it, love it, made me sad), which is kinda odd, given you can on Facebook -- though it's not difficult just to send a single emoji, like a thumbs-up, as a reply; there is a "send a GIF" feature, which might be similar to "stickers", and if you wanted to share your location, you'd have to go to Google Maps, choose "share" from there and pick WhatsApp as the target for the share. (So workarounds for some features).

    But overall what other significant differences are there?

    Whenever I've seen this story covered today on any tech-focused site the comments sections on all have absolutely exploded, and yet I never seem to get any clear details on why iMessage is so-treasured to begin with.

    What does it uniquely do that the cross-platform alternatives, like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, don't?

    • christianwilson

      For equal transparency, I have never used WhatsApp.

      I know that if I have someone's mobile number (or email address if it's tied to an Apple ID) I can reach that person from iMessage, regardless of what mobile phone they have. It just works and I don't have to think about which messaging platform someone is on.

      You can count on it being there for the people you know who aren't tech savvy. If they have an iPhone, or even just an iPad, they can communicate and do as much as they feel comfortable doing without having to worry about downloading anything special or sign up for additional accounts. My grandmother is terrified of computers but she was given an iPad a few years ago and her primary means of communicating with family is now iMessage. She loves it. It's easy, it's reliable, and dependable.

      You've got a good idea of what features iMessage has but I think how well it all works makes the difference. It also does other things that, while not exclusive to iMessage, work very well. Sending money to people using Apple Pay is baked right in, Find My features allow you to locate family members without ever leaving the app, and many apps installed on your phone can automatically integrate with iMessage (including Google Maps) so you don't have to leave Messages to get things done.

      A lot of people love the reactions feature (I do), many people don't, but a workaround or sending an emoji isn't quite the same. I can give a thumbs up, down, or question something quickly, and can even do this from the phone's lock screen. I don't feel that is a killer feature but it is helpful for me. iMessage also sends animated GIFs, but GIFs and stickers are not one in the same. Again, not everyone likes slapping stickers all over the place but no doubt it has appeal. Same with Memojis.

      It comes on every iPhone, iPad, Mac, and extends to connected devices like Apple Watch and even AirPods. That's very powerful, and I suppose you could criticize Apple for other messaging apps not getting first class support, but that's another conversation. I get my messages read to me on my AirPods and don't have to take out my phone to read them (or respond if I'm in a place where I won't be rude speaking out loud).

      I have absolutely nothing bad to say about WhatsApp, Signal, or any other alternative out there. It sounds like they all do a lot of the same things. In my situation, I have no compelling reason to move off of iMessage and I suspect that is the same for many others who love it so much.

    • red.radar

      Send High Quality Video messages without length limitations

  29. ebraiter

    Both are childish. Apple for saying RCS is unsecure [OK, SMS is unsecure] but then Apple isn't helping iGadget fans who want to communicate securely with RCS users.

    Google, as the big honcho for Android, should push everyone off the old SMS and onto RCS. Maybe mandate it.

    If you have an unsecure product, what do you do? Fix it or kill it off.

    As for the color, if excluding the "unsecure" comments from Apple, I would like to know where the message originated from.

    • SvenJ

      "Google, as the big honcho for Android, should push everyone off the old SMS and onto RCS. Maybe mandate it." They can't do that. That would completely break messaging for the multitude of Android users whose phones or carriers don't support it, not to mention any messaging with iPhone users. Right now both camps default to SMS when iMessage/RCS isn't available, and yes, it isn't ubiquitous on Android.

  30. christianwilson

    Google is laying it on pretty thick here.

    iMessage is great. In the early days of the iPhone, many of us wanted iChat to come over from the Mac. Instead of giving us an iChat app in addition to an app for SMS, we got Messages which brought SMS and a replacement for iChat (iMessage) in one app. It's pretty seamless and it does "just work". The colors let you know what features and security you can expect, which is helpful.

    As far as Google's request goes, I do think Apple should implement RCS into Messages. But what is Google's expectation here? RCS messaging gets enabled and the bubbles go blue so that we finally attain world peace? If anything, RCS would probably get a new color, which solves none of this tragic inequality.

    I'm all for this, but come on, Google. You could sound less dramatic.

  31. jdawgnoonan

    Man, a lot of people simply do not understand that RCS is a new industry standard to replace SMS and that if Apple does not implement it then they are effectively trying to keep the standard at SMS for their own benefit.

  32. dougkinzinger

    "And it’s real. When I switched to the iPhone recently, I was immediately congratulated for making the switch by three iPhone-using people—my son, my daughter, and a neighbor—because they immediately noticed the change in their Messages apps."

    So true, and absolutely happens when someone who has always been "green" suddenly turns "blue."

  33. ben55124

    I just wonder why imessage users react to my messages and then re-type them. /s

  34. Daekar

    I would settle for comprehensive RCS support across all wireless networks and Android devices/apps. When that happens, the competitive advantage of iMessage is gone and the opportunity cost of adding RCD compatibility to iMessage decreases drastically such that the improved user experience might be worth it to Apple. In the meantime, this is just Google complaining that somebody else has done it better than they have.

    FWIW, I use Google Messages on my Note and I am pretty sure that most of the time I am getting the old school SMS experience... and it doesn't seem to matter a hill of beans one way or the other.

  35. mike2thel73

    Google screwed themselves during the very early stages of Android when they decided to make Android open source and welcome the carriers (sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, & AT&T) as partners. Apple created the iPhone and strong armed everyone. Apple dictated terms even before iPhone became special. Meanwhile Google's partners tried to hijack Android for their own purposes and in the process killed Android before it even had a chance to be #1 in America. Google is so full of crap. If they were serious about competing with apple they would have never given in to pay that ludicrous amount of money to be a default search engine on iPhone nor would they have allowed their own apps to be better on iOS then its own platform. When it comes to smartphones Google will always be 2nd fiddle.

  36. matthewitt

    I think once RCS has true encryption baked into the standard Apple should adopt it, but not until the standard gets more fully “baked.” Apple shouldn’t have to chase a “standard” Google is promoting (RCS+Google’s encryption implementation.) That’s just crazy talk. Can you imagine if Apple tried to keep up with each of the 12 messaging platforms Google’s launched in the last decade?

    Apple will adopt the standard when it is used by many, globally, but not a second before. There’s no advantage to them to do so. The iPhone launched without MMS capabilities and that standard was actually popular by then.

  37. hopmedic

    I'm must going to sit back and not care what color my bubble is on my friends' phones.

  38. roundaboutskid

    I find Messenger - function wise - to be the superior messaging app with it's ease of use, consistency across platforms, nice gallery of reaction emojis, ability to see if people who allow it are online, etc. I know much of this exists in other messaging systems as well, but in my opinion it's all brought very neatly together in Messenger.

  39. Rschlack

    It's funny because I used to be an iPhone user and had to switch to Android because that's the only way I could get my messages on my computer. I would love to switch back to iPhone, but unless I can convince everyone I know to switch from iMessage to WhatsApp or another platform that works on my PC, I'm sort of stuck with Android.

  40. balrob

    The reason the differentiation needed to exist was the extortionate prices carriers charged for sending a picture. It is extremely commonplace now to flick a picture to a friend - but not if it’s going to attract an MMS fee! Apple’s interoperability was a godsend at the time. Modern but with back compatibility. If anyone is to blame its telcos.

  41. richfrantz

    Not too many months ago there was a news article that said that iPhone users did better on dating apps. Maybe Google is just lonely.

  42. roundaboutskid

    Anyone remember Windows Phone? Which, initially at least, had the capability of collecting a wide range of communication channels together into one view? That was neat.

  43. Gordan Redzic

    Never felt inferior for having a green bubble in someone's sms feed... Have your walled garden if you want it...

  44. anoldamigauser

    Google is an ad company. Tell me that they are not using the contents of messages to target ads. I am all for standards, but if Google is proposing it, I can only assume that it allows them to collect more data about more people. No thanks.

  45. donaldhall3

    As Microsoft used to say: when they can't compete they litigate. I worked at Google and every year for 3 years I would be given a new Pixel and every year I would put it in a drawer next to the old one. Perhaps with all of their global dominance they could decide one messaging service and make it really good. But probably not.

  46. _stevenelliott

    "And it’s real. When I switched to the iPhone recently, I was immediately congratulated for making the switch by three iPhone-using people—my son, my daughter, and a neighbor—because they immediately noticed the change in their Messages apps."

    This is absolutely the case and what keeps me in iOS even though I keep an Android for dev purposes. My kids, wife, family, friends, coworkers are almost exclusively on iOS, and FaceTime and Messages are a definite thing. I do support Messages supporting RCS, it doesn't degrade iMessage at all by supporting it.

    • pwingert

      FYI 87^ of American teenagers have an iPhone! This may explain the culture wall that has developed around iMessage.

  47. slyronit

    The green messages include SMS and MMS so there’s no reason why it can’t include RCS, too. Apple will still show RCS as “inferior” and people won’t have to pay per message like SMS and MMS.

  48. danmac

    At some point Apple may support RCS, but they'll still colour them green.

    • pecosbob04

      Yes, and therefore Google will still be pissed. As even Paul must realize it's not the functionality it's the blue bubbles that has Googles nose out of joint.

    • pecosbob04

      " iMessage would continue to work like it does but you would have secure chats with ALL your contacts all in one app regardless of what device they have.  "

      If I understand things correctly the RCS standard does not provide end-to-end encryption. End-to-end is a google add on to the standard not all phones and carriers support the google mod or even RCS for that matter so the quoted statement is incorrect.

  49. yoshi

    I don't think Google's outcry for RCS is the solution. It's an old standard at this point and the encryption is nowhere near what iMessage does. Chats are only encrypted at a 1:1 level. No group chats are encrypted. Also, RCS as a standard is not encrypted. The encryption only exists in Google's version of RCS. For example, both users need to be using Google Messages for encryption to happen. Which makes the whole 'RCS should be in iMessage' argument a moot point in regards to privacy.

    At least, that was all my understanding.

  50. Saarek

    Come off it, as if Google would do it if the position was reversed.

    One big corporation trying to get another big corporation to remove an advantage that they hold. Not going to happen.

    • alissa914

      Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but didn't BBM do this same thing there too? They don't want to give up their strong position in this until they lose that position and suddenly, they can port it to every mobile platform.

    • jgraebner

      Google IS in the same position and they don't do this. Android and iOS basically split the smartphone market. In the US, it is close to 50/50 (worldwide, Android is much more dominant). One company has chosen to embrace open standards and the other company has chosen to prioritize their own competitive advantage over what is best for their customers.

      I frankly find it stunning that some Apple fans actually think that it is in their own best interest to have to care about what brand of phone their friends and family are using when deciding how to message with them. I thought Apple users preferred everything to "just work".

      • jimchamplin

        It does just work. iMessage between iMessage users, SMS with SMS users. I’ve never had any issues communicating with SMS users via iMessage. The color of the text balloon matters about as much as what that person had for breakfast. It’s immaterial as long as the core function is operational.

  51. will

    It is funny how Google is the one saying Apple needs to comply and stop being a bully, when it is pushing a standard it helped create. There is nothing wrong with Apple having its own message system that works with its own services and devices.

    Now I would like to see iMessage for Android, yes, or maybe like someone suggested support the RCS format and keep it in the green bubble, or something like it. But I do not agree that Google should be calling out bullying when they have done so in the past.

    • jgraebner

      They aren't accusing Apple themselves of being bullies. They are correctly pointing out that Apple has created a situation where some of their users (particularly teens) are bullying others that choose to use non-Apple devices. Apple has decided that they are OK with that since it benefits them financially.

  52. Bart

    It is interesting that this assault is coming from Google and not so much ordinary consumers. I too would like to see RCS on my iPhone, though in this day and age, who uses text messages? At least, here in Europe, it has gone the way of the dodo.

    • _stevenelliott

      If you're in the US, sms and iMessage are the predominant means of messaging. WhatsApp is used as a "by the way" mostly for people that have family friends in other countries.

      • Bart

        Thanks. Figured as much. Hence I mentioned Europe. We have WhatsApp, WhatsApp and WhatsApp :)

        • Saarek

          Depends on the country and the demographics. For places like the UK iMessage is very popular because 50% of the market is on iPhones.

          I predominantly use iMessage, but have WhatsApp as a backup for the few randoms in my circle that prefer Android.

          My brother in Germany is primarily a WhatsApp user because only 20 percent of the market out there is iPhone based. A good friend of mine in Belgium uses a mix because the iPhone penetration is strong there.

          • Bart

            81% uses WhatsApp in the UK according to studies. Just Google (or Bing?) So maybe you are in a unique bubble?

            • djr1984

              I'm in a similar position too. I use both Whatsapp and iMessage here in the UK. Typically iPhone users in my circle all use iMessage and then we switch to Whatsapp for those people that are on Android.

              I suppose Whatsapp wins because it is used by both iPhone users and Android users, so they're the natural bridging app for most.

        • Donte

          Or as I like to say Facebook, Facebook and Facebook. NO THANKS.

          • Bart

            In all fairness, we use Signal within the family for that exact reason. But WhatsApp really is the dominant messaging service.

        • obarthelemy

          You maybe. Me, not at all. hats app would be my 3rd app, behind texts and Skype. But before Hangouts ^^

      • pwingert

        WhatsApp is dominant in Asian countries and has much stronger retail and purchasing base than it has for messaging. With the US shunning Huawei it has affected the perception of security in WhatsApp.

        • karlinhigh

          I thought in China it was WeChat that had basically become the-phone-itself? Its dominance hasn't crossed borders then?

    • LT1 Z51

      Europe abandoned SMS because carriers didn't offer cheap plants or cross country bundles (I have family in Germany and I remember it was like 35 euro cents to text someone in France). But for some reason Data was super cheap (and of course when on WiFi data is free). So everyone migrated to Apps (What's app being the most popular).

      In the US you have to understand people are in fact lazy. Like real lazy. Like if they have something (texting) and it works, and they get 5000 of them a month (or unlimited) then they just use it.

      I'd venture 95% of people don't even realize that iMessage ISN'T a text message (they also don't know that SMS/MMS are the standards for text messages). People just call it a Text.

      In the old days this might have become more known as you used to get a list of every number on your bill. And iMessages as data don't show up, but SMS or regular texts do.

      Seriously, the amount of ignorance and laziness in the common person in the US is stunning. We live in a too "safe" environment where people can literally "fall through" life and not die. It causes extreme intellectual atrophy.

      • nbplopes

        I think you may be outdated regarding European practices. Europeans use SMS messages all the time for work and business related messaging … and is included in contract thousands of messages … long gone are paying for SMS. Now when it comes to socialising between friends and family yes, SMS was superseded by the likes of Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook Message …

      • macguy59

        Gosh your argument was persuasive. Satisfied = Lazy. Brilliant !

      • LT1 Z51

        And if I could edit my post I'd fix my first paragraphs grammatical and spelling errors. This is what happens when I type too much...