Last week, the world watched as Apple announced its latest phones. As silly – though equally enticing – as Dynamic Island might be, the iPhone 14 series doesn’t fix one of the biggest problems with modern smartphones: texting. The day after Apple’s keynote, Tim Cook took to the stage at Vox’s Code Conference, asserting the company’s position on RCS: it doesn’t care and if you want to send mom high-resolution videos high prize, you’d better buy her – or yourself – an iPhone.
After months of increasingly desperate calls from Google, it has cemented cross-platform messaging as a pathetic mess in the US. Cook’s comments are something to behold, not only for Android users but also for any iPhone users who want to text their friends without worrying about the blue bubbles and green. That’s why it’s finally time to push your iOS-based friends and family to ditch their blue bubble group chats and switch to a third-party chat platform.
Let me preface this: this issue is purely a US-focused one. I am fully aware that iMessage has almost no importance in most of the rest of the world. It’s a problem that dates back more than a decade, when US service providers included free SMS while other countries continued to charge additional fees, facilitating services like WhatsApp. became popular while there were still few players in the state. Unfortunately, I live in the US, so this struggle is all I know. For those US-based readers – Android and iPhone users – it’s time to join together and follow the rest of the world lead. If convincing Apple to adopt RCS doesn’t work, you have to convince your friends to download a new app.
Don’t get me wrong – this is going to be an uphill battle. iPhones are incredibly popular in the US, and that user base is only growing. iMessage is not only an important locking feature but also a way to get people to switch to Android. Tim Cook said it himself on stage this week: if you’re sick of receiving or sending low-resolution video, if you’re fed up with broken group chats, if you’re sick of being called a “bubble” green”, Apple’s solution is for you to buy an iPhone.
And I hear you. You’ve been through this before. You tried this feature out in 2012 when you persuaded your family to join Hangouts. You tried again in 2016, convincing some of your friends to download Allo from the App Store. You’ve called both the future of texting. And in both cases, you are wrong.
Now that Google seems to be sticking to a messaging service – and a good one at that – it’s disappointing to have to let go. RCS isn’t perfect, but it’s akin to the “iMessage for Android” that people have been begging for for years. It works with your phone number, it supports nearly any Android device, and it’s almost automatic. But outside of the US, no one really cares about RCS. And even more importantly in the US, RCS needs Apple to adopt it. Otherwise, we’re stuck with the same problems we’ve been dealing with for a decade: broken group chats and a lack of modern messaging features. Without some drastic intervention – be it from the government or the carriers – Apple will not add RCS support to iMessage in the near future.
So it’s time to give up on the dream and make one last push for your friends and family to switch to the cross-platform chat service. Thankfully, countless messaging apps are widely available on both app stores. If you don’t mind using Meta products, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram are all there. Your mom is probably on Facebook, so getting her to message you via Messenger won’t take much effort. Don’t want to give Meta access to your life? Sign up for Signals. I’ve been using it for a few of my group chats over the past few months and it’s been great. It’s basic enough that anyone can learn how to use it, even those who haven’t used anything but iMessage since the days of the sliding QWERTY keyboard. Invite your friends to join Discord or Telegram. All of these platforms are accessible on iOS and Android and can also sync with desktop or web-based clients. It’s important that they’re set up – unlike Hangouts and Allo, they’re not going anywhere.
That is hard work. Really annoying. Basically, you will have to pester and convince the people closest to you in your life, all in an effort to fix a problem over which we have little or no control. But that’s all – we can make these changes in our social circles just by begging friends and family to download one ultimate messaging app. And the timing is perfect. More than ever, iPhone users seem to be aware of problems with texting Android users and may be willing to change their habits to avoid future headaches. If there’s a benefit to Google’s ongoing campaign, this is it.
So one last time. Apologize to your loved ones for making them try Allo all these years – honestly, they deserve it (Allology?) – and promise them this will be the calling. your last. No future apps, no Google announcements. Jump into WhatsApp, Signal or any app of your choice and leave the past green bubble chat. We will all be better for it.