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

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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 sequence of tweets calling out Apple over technique with iMessage. His feedback got here after a Wall Road Journal (WSJ) report highlighting how within the US, teenagers are firmly in workforce 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 keeping with the report. And Google has determined to take the second to name out Apple’s ‘walled-garden’ strategy to messaging.

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

The WSJ report

The report highlights how teenagers, school college students within the US are firmly hooked to their iPhones. Additionally, anybody who steps exterior of the hallowed ‘blue bubbles’ will get ostracised or regarded down upon. On Apple’s Messages app, when somebody is messaging one other iPhone consumer, 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.

Identical 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. Based on 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 could be a nasty thought. These have been revealed within the Apple vs Epic Video games lawsuit. Apple’s chief software program govt 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 might harm Apple ultimately.

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

However iMessage has developed into extra than simply ‘blue’ vs ‘inexperienced’ bubbles through the years. Apple has added options reminiscent of Memoji, Animoji, Video games, the power to answer to messages, react with emojis, and so forth. All of those are unique to iPhone customers and iMessage. And whereas Memoji may be shared by way of different apps reminiscent of WhatsApp, many of the iMessage options are off-limits to non-Apple customers. Additional, iMessages are end-to-end encrypted between customers, a safety function 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 shouldn’t profit from bullying. Texting ought to carry us collectively, and the answer exists. Let’s repair this as one trade.”

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

The Android SVP clarified that Google isn’t asking Apple to make iMessage obtainable on Android. As a substitute, it needs the iPhone-maker to help “the trade customary for contemporary messaging (RCS) in iMessage, simply as they help the older SMS / MMS requirements.”

Lockheimer additionally defined that this was necessary as a result of cellphone number-based messaging is one thing customers in the end 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’ve excessive confidence that sending them a textual content (SMS) will work. That’s as a result of it’s a normal and supported by basically all cellular gadgets. That’s in all probability why Apple supported SMS, to start with,” he wrote.

He added that the brand new RCS customary is SMS developed 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 so forth, and teams are coming quickly.

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

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

Whereas Google is making an attempt to place the give attention to RCS as soon as once more, remember these options have been in place for some time now. In November 2020, Google introduced that its rollout of the RCS customary 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 cellphone quantity and operator.

The Messages app on Android with RCS help has much more options. This consists of the power to share high-quality movies and photographs, chat over Wi-Fi or information, learn receipts for messages, group chats, the power to react to messages with emojis, and so forth. Take into account one has to activate these chat options within the Messages app on Android.

Google additionally mentioned it might 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 means of 2021. Finish-to-end encryption is what WhatsApp, Sign additionally provide and this ensures safe messaging as a result of no third occasion 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 unquestionably fascinating. There’s a variety of scrutiny on Apple and its ‘walled backyard’ strategy, particularly since Epic Video games’ lawsuit. iMessage is definitely one of many major apps which can be but to make a ‘cross-platform’ look. Apple has lengthy been criticised for the strategy it has taken. By the way, Apple has allowed customers from different gadgets to affix a FaceTime name now with a hyperlink, which was beforehand not attainable.

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

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 form of success that Apple’s iMessage has tasted. It definitely doesn’t have the form of loyalty that iMessage has impressed amongst teen customers within the US. In the meantime, Android customers in India–one of many greatest markets for the OS–are extra depending on WhatsApp, with different apps like Telegram, Sign making some mark as properly.

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


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