Google takes on Apple over iMessage ‘lock-in’: Right here’s why


Google is slamming Apple over the locked-in world of ‘iMessage’. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Android at Google, put out a collection of tweets calling out Apple over technique with iMessage. His feedback got here after a Wall Avenue Journal (WSJ) report highlighting how within the US, teenagers are firmly in crew iMessage. Extra importantly, those that go away the Apple iMessage ‘blue textual content’ world for Android are sometimes ostracised and shamed by their friends, in line with the report. And Google has determined to take the second to name out Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ method to messaging.

Additional, Google’s personal method in direction of messaging has been in sharp distinction because it tries to push Wealthy Communication Companies (RCS) with its personal Messages app for Android. RCS for many who are unaware is the subsequent era of messaging requirements and protocols, designed to interchange SMS and MMS. Right here’s a have a look at what the controversy is about.

The WSJ report

The report highlights how teenagers, faculty college students within the US are firmly hooked to their iPhones. Additionally, anybody who steps outdoors of the hallowed ‘blue bubbles’ will get ostracised or seemed down upon. On Apple’s Messages app, when somebody is messaging one other iPhone person, all these messages seem in blue. But when somebody chats with Android customers, which is by way of common SMS, then the messages seem in inexperienced.

Similar to WhatsApp, iMessage additionally permits customers to create teams. And when non-iPhone customers message on these teams, theirs seems as inexperienced in a sea of blue. In keeping with WSJ, “Apple’s iMessage has…helped to cement the iPhone’s dominance amongst younger smartphone customers within the US.”

The report additionally quotes letters from Apple executives about why opening up iMessage to Android customers can be a nasty thought. These had been revealed within the Apple vs Epic Video games lawsuit. Apple’s chief software program government Craig Federighi wrote in an e mail in 2013 that permitting iMessage on Android would “merely serve to take away [an] impediment to iPhone households giving their children Android telephones,” and that it could damage Apple ultimately.

It additionally quotes Justin Santamaria, a former Apple engineer who defined that the blue bubble was merely to distinguish between iMessage vs other forms of messages when it first rolled out. He additionally confused that the concept was to not preserve customers locked into an Apple gadget when it was first conceived.

However iMessage has advanced into extra than simply ‘blue’ vs ‘inexperienced’ bubbles through the years. Apple has added options corresponding to Memoji, Animoji, Video games, the flexibility to answer to messages, react with emojis, and many others. All of those are unique to iPhone customers and iMessage. And whereas Memoji may be shared by way of different apps corresponding to WhatsApp, a lot of the iMessage options are off-limits to non-Apple customers. Additional, iMessages are end-to-end encrypted between customers, a safety characteristic that’s clearly not prolonged to the non-iMessages on a tool.

Google’s feedback

Hiroshi Lockheimer, who can also be quoted within the WSJ article, put out a thread, calling out Apple over the locked-in technique. He mentioned that “iMessage mustn’t profit from bullying. Texting ought to carry us collectively, and the answer exists. Let’s repair this as one business.”

He additionally known as this a “documented technique” the place Apple is utilizing “peer stress and bullying as a technique to promote merchandise is disingenuous for a corporation that has humanity and fairness as a core a part of its advertising and marketing,” including that there are requirements to repair this.

The Android SVP clarified that Google is just not asking Apple to make iMessage out there on Android. As a substitute, it desires the iPhone-maker to assist “the business commonplace for contemporary messaging (RCS) in iMessage, simply as they assist the older SMS / MMS requirements.”

Lockheimer additionally defined that this was necessary as a result of telephone number-based messaging is one thing customers finally depend on. “If you wish to attain somebody and also you don’t know whether or not they use app x y or z, you will have excessive confidence that sending them a textual content (SMS) will work. That’s as a result of it’s a typical and supported by primarily all cell units. That’s most likely why Apple supported SMS, to start with,” he wrote.

He added that the brand new RCS commonplace is SMS advanced and it’s higher with most of the wealthy options that Apple already has on iMessage. It has options like ‘learn receipts’ ‘typing indicators’ and many others, and teams are coming quickly.

“By not incorporating RCS, Apple is holding again the business and holding again the person expertise for not solely Android customers but additionally their very own prospects,” he wrote including that they had been “pleased to work with Apple to make RCS interop a actuality.”

What’s RCS, the place is it out there on Android?

Whereas Google is making an attempt to place the give attention to RCS as soon as once more, take into account these options have been in place for some time now. In November 2020, Google introduced that its rollout of the RCS commonplace was now full globally for the Message app on Android. In India, the RCS-rich model of the Messages app was rolled out in 2019.

Consider RCS as changing your boring SMS app into one thing as wealthy as WhatsApp or Telegram. However right here it’s linked to your telephone quantity and operator.

The Messages app on Android with RCS assist has much more options. This contains the flexibility to share high-quality movies and photographs, chat over Wi-Fi or knowledge, learn receipts for messages, group chats, the flexibility to react to messages with emojis, and many others. Take note one has to activate these chat options within the Messages app on Android.

Google additionally mentioned it could roll out end-to-end encryption for the Messages app in November 2020. Nevertheless, this was rolled out to the beta model of the app first and a broader rollout continued by 2021. Finish-to-end encryption is what WhatsApp, Sign additionally supply and this ensures safe messaging as a result of no third celebration can learn or entry the messages. However proper now this solely works when each events have the Messages app and chat options turned on Android.

Why is Google placing the give attention to RCS once more?

The timing is certainly fascinating. There’s quite a lot of scrutiny on Apple and its ‘walled backyard’ method, particularly since Epic Video games’ lawsuit. iMessage is definitely one of many essential apps which can be but to make a ‘cross-platform’ look. Apple has lengthy been criticised for the method it has taken. By the way, Apple has allowed customers from different units to affix a FaceTime name now with a hyperlink, which was beforehand not potential.

Nevertheless, Google has its personal chequered historical past with messaging apps. It has tried to succeed with internet-based messaging apps corresponding to GTalk (unique model) Allo prior to now (launched in 2016, shutdown in 2019), Hangouts, Buzz, and many others.

The listing of Google’s makes an attempt within the ‘messaging app’ division could be very lengthy. And whereas Google is specializing in RCS proper now, it has not seen the type of success that Apple’s iMessage has tasted. It definitely doesn’t have the type of loyalty that iMessage has impressed amongst teen customers within the US. In the meantime, Android customers in India–one of many largest markets for the OS–are extra depending on WhatsApp, with different apps like Telegram, Sign making some mark as effectively.

There’s little question that if the RCS commonplace does get adopted by Apple, it may undoubtedly enhance the recognition of conventional messaging apps. And Google’s Messages app on Android would stand to learn. However so would customers.





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