Android mascots stand in the demonstration area at the Google I/O Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Beck Diefenbach | Reuters
Googlethe developer of Android, is increasing pressure on Apple to introduce RCS, a next-generation standard for text messaging.
It is argued that Apple’s support for RCS would help avoid some of the problems that arise when iPhone users text messages with Android owners. Currently, for example, images and videos are not displayed as clearly as they could be, and texts cannot be sent over Wi-Fi networks.
Google executives have suggested Apple won’t support RCS because its own system, iMessage, helps the Cupertino-based company retain iPhone users by locking them into the Apple ecosystem.
And a Website and advertising campaign on TuesdayGoogle accused Apple of creating an inferior experience when iPhones text Android phones or vice versa.
“We hope Android users will no longer be blamed for ruining chats,” said Adrienne Lofton, Google’s global vice president of integrated marketing for platforms. “This is Apple to blame and it’s time to take responsibility.”
The campaign is a notable escalation in an ongoing compatibility dispute between the two companies that dominate software for smartphones. Almost all smartphones in the world run either Android or Apple’s iOS, and Apple’s iPhone has over 55% of the US market. according to StatCounter.
Google wants Apple to support the RCS “standard” or specifications that allow many different companies, such as carriers or phone manufacturers, to develop apps that can send and receive RCS messages. Many Android phones already have built-in messaging apps that support RCS.
Messaging services have become a major battleground for tech giants because when a user’s contacts are all using the same service, the user is “locked in” and less likely to switch to another platform or app.
Facebook parent Meta, who owns WhatsApp, has said that it competes directly with Apple because iMessage is so widely used in the US. Messaging has also attracted the attention of some policymakers, who are pushing to force competing services to work together under fair competition rules.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, a Google senior vice president responsible for Android, said earlier this year that Apple uses its own SMS platform to do this binds its customersciting internal Apple emails released during a legal battle last year that showed senior Apple executives rejecting proposals to bring an iMessage app to Android.
“I worry that iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove a barrier to iPhone families giving Android phones to their children,” wrote Craig Federighi, Apple’s current senior vice president of software, in 2013. according to an email.
Apple’s iMessage is slightly different from other messaging services in that it’s the default text messaging app on the iPhone.
Apple’s systems recognize when an iPhone is texting another iPhone, and instead of sending that message through the SMS system, it uses Apple’s own proprietary iMessage network. Users will see the text they send as a “blue bubble” as opposed to the green color seen in SMS texts as applied to Android users. The inferiority of “Green Bubble” lyrics has become a meme and inspires Song by the musician Drake.
iMessage chats offer a better user experience than SMS chats on an iPhone. Many of Apple’s features, like adding emoji reactions to a single text message, barely work for SMS chats. iMessage chats feel faster because of Apple’s animations and includes features like recipe reading, bubbles that show if a user is typing, and superior group chats.
Apple continues to differentiate iMessage from SMS with new features, like the ability to cancel or edit messages, releasing this fall.
Green and blue bubbles.
Pattonmania | Istock | Getty Images
Google says it doesn’t want Apple to bring iMessage to Android, instead wanting Apple to support RCS developed by a group of wireless carriers and other technology companies an improvement over decades of SMS and MMS systems.
Google’s campaign Tuesday emphasized that RCS support for iPhones would enable several new features when an iPhone user texts an Android user, including higher-resolution photos, the ability to send texts over Wi-Fi, and the ability to display read receipts.
Google also says RCS messages are encrypted but SMS messages are not, meaning the new standard is more private.
“If [Apple] After embracing the platform, consumers can share things like high-resolution photos and videos, read receipts, enjoy rich reactions,” said Lofton. “And that’s a key point — better security and privacy with encryption.”
But SMS isn’t important for messaging in many markets, and Google’s campaign is focused on the US market. In many countries, users write SMS through apps like WhatsApp or Telegram or WeChat.
In fact, in its campaign on Tuesday, Google recommended that users could already download Signal or WhatsApp, noting that these free apps are as safe as RCS promises.
Apple has been silent on RCS and continues to add features to iMessage that only work on iPhones and other Apple products. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.