iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus

Since last year, Google has been trying to shame Apple into adopting RCS messaging with its slightly desperate seeming “Get the Message” campaign. The problem is that Android devices sending text messages to iPhones use the basic SMS and MMS protocol, meaning blurry pictures and none of the mod-cons that iPhone-to-iPhone chat gets.

Well, victory to Google… or more likely, the EU and its incoming Digital Markets Act, which will require companies to make their services interoperable. But whoever gets bragging rights, Apple has finally relented and promised it will adopt RCS protocols before the end of 2024.

“Later next year, we will be adding support for RCS Universal Profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association,” an Apple spokesperson said. “We believe RCS Universal Profile will offer a better interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS. This will work alongside iMessage, which will continue to be the best and most secure messaging experience for Apple users.”

Unfortunately for Google and Android manufacturers, there’s a “but” — and that “but” is that Apple will continue to make messages received from Android devices green, rather than the blue shade that iPhone-to-iPhone messages get.

“So what?”, you might ask, and if so I’m guessing you’re not a teenager. Because in the US and other markets where iOS dominates, having a green text bubble makes you a social pariah amongst younger people, as explained by the Wall Street Journal

Really? Yes, really. One young woman told the paper that it even affected who she might date. “I was like, `Oh my gosh, his texts are green,’ and my sister literally went, `Ew that’s gross,’” she recalls, in an exchange that will make people of a certain age roll their eyes so hard, they get whiplash.

And yes, there are memes about the phenomenon. Lots of memes.

Apple is no doubt aware of this, and it’s likely why the company was so reluctant to adopt RCS messaging protocols itself. Indeed, the WSJ piece is full of Apple executives warning that it needs to keep iMessage exclusive because it neatly keeps iPhone users in the ecosystem. 

“I am concerned the iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones,” wrote Apple’s Craig Federighi all the way back in 2013. “iMessage amounts to serious lock-in,” wrote another.

Well now Google has got its wish, and the ‘Get the Message’ campaign can stand down. It just has to hope that the compatibility improvements will eventually make the green bubble jokes a thing of the past, because campaigning for a change of colour would look even more tragic than Samsung’s attempt to counter the problem with GIFs for the kids