Google for Apple: “stop hitting us with iMessage!”

O iMessagethe default instant messenger on devices from applehas always been treated as one of the resources that justifies its Jardim Murado strategy: nothing essential to the iPhone, iPad and Mac will be made available to the competition, without options for interaction between systems, especially with the androidof Google.

When there is communication between systems, it is kept to a minimum, with a purposely deprecated user experience; in the case of iMessage, in addition to differentiating Android messages in green text bubbles (Apple users have blue bubbles), everything is converted to the archaic SMS/MMS format, in which the RCSa new default, was created to replace.

Android users are identified with green balloons in iMessage, and Apple makes a point of worsening the communication experience between systems (Credit: Yann Bastard)

Android users are identified with green balloons in iMessage, and Apple makes a point of worsening the communication experience between systems (Credit: Yann Bastard)

RCS (Rich Communications Service) is a standard communication format for instant messaging, to be managed by telephone operators, which incorporates almost all the resources available in iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and Cia. Ltd.: It supports messages longer than 160 characters, large file transfer, high quality audio and video messages, stickers, group chats, complete package.

There are two impediments to its advancement as a one-stop solution: first, Apple vehemently refuses to adopt it; second, Google is the player most interested in its implementation, as it has its own version, a fork, this one is endorsed by the search giant. The original, being an industry standard, lacks basic features like data encryption, and relies on a working cell phone number, rather than linking it to login services.

Google recently launched a new website to promote its RCS called “Get the Message,” a public campaign to pressure Apple to adopt the format in RCS, but many people wonder why Mountain View bothers. Android is the market leader in the world, accounting for 71.86% of the global market share (data from July 2022), why worry about the remaining 28%?

The answer is very simple: the United States matters. The rest of the world does not.

iMessage dominates the US. Google’s fault

Market share of the mobile market in the US, between July 2021 and July 2022 (Credit: Statcounter)

Market share of the mobile market in the US, between July 2021 and July 2022 (Credit: Statcounter)

Although the difference is small, the iPhone is the leader of the North American market, with 55.26% of share, against 44.43% of Android (data from July 2022). The iMessage is a cultural phenomenon there, to the point of being the subject of songs that, while shining Apple, mock Google’s little robot.

Still, it’s not as if Google isn’t present on the iPhone, with its myriad products and services. Google Search, for example, is guaranteed space for a fee, and Mountain View shells out mountains of cash every year without complaint. Why couldn’t a messenger from the giant be on the iPhone, being available as an option?

Have you finished laughing? Ok, I wait.

Moving on… it’s no secret that Google has a long and extensive experience with instant messengers, and nothing the company has done has worked. Hangouts, Google Talk, Allo, Chat, even Google+ can be put in this basket. The reasons for the dismissal of these apps range from low adherence, to clumsy practices by Google itself, with a solution competing with an internal one, or several others, simultaneously.

How is it possible to retain the user when not even Google knows what it is doing? The latest mess involves Allo, renamed to Google Meet… while the original Meet remains available. yes there is two official apps, called Google Meet.

There’s also Messages, the default app that uses RCS, Google Voice, voice with a number provided by the app, Hangouts, which will be discontinued at the end of 2022, and the messengers built into other solutions, such as Gmail, GDocs, Google Play, Google Assistant, Google Stadia…

The Google Messenger Mess Isn't New (Credit: Ron Amadeo) / imessage

The Google Messenger Mess Isn’t New (Credit: Ron Amadeo)

This is one of the problems that Google has always failed to solve. The company does not have a stable, recognizable app for instant messaging, allowing third-party solutions like WhatsApp and Telegram to gain ground. The same goes for iMessage, with the advantage that Apple’s application is native.

Exactly for this reason, Mountain View has been trying for years to convince Cupertino to adopt RCS, which will favor its products, but in a practical sense, will not bring any advantage to Apple’s closed ecosystem. Which brings us to the strategy that Tim Cook’s company adopts:

“You who fight”

Drake’s song making fun of the green balloons on iMessage is right. By default, messages received by Apple’s native app are divided between who has an iGadget and who doesn’t. Any text or image sent from one iPhone, iPad or Mac to another using the in-house solution is identified by a blue text bubble.

Everything that doesn’t meet this prerequisite gets the green balloon treatment, but with a Machiavellian pinch: the content is, by default, treated, and delivered, as an SMS message or MMS media content, which have severe limitations when compared to features of modern messengers.

Apple makes it very clear that messages outside of iMessage are worse (Credit: Disclosure/Apple)

Apple makes it very clear that messages outside of iMessage are worse (Credit: Disclosure/Apple)

To detract from inter-system communication, SMS text messages, which by today’s standards are sent to iPhones by Android devices, can arrive garbled and broken, rearranged in inconvenient ways. Videos and photos are compressed as much as possible to fit the MMS format, completely killing the experience.

Not to mention that unlike messages sent between iMessage users, SMS implies costs to the recipient. In many cases, the user simply blocks communication from Android owners, relegating them to third-party apps, which are far from popular in the US, again, the market that Google really cares about. There, iMessage has much more audience than WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Telegram.

This makes Google’s new campaign to convince Apple to adopt RCS sound more like a plea for leniency to the apple, to stop doing bully with its solution, and allow it to find space in iMessage, an act that would bring enormous benefits to Mountain View, which would make its version of the protocol viable, and to operators, who could earn more money, but practically none relevant to Cupertino.

Which runs into another problem: Apple dictates new trends, but doesn’t follow those presented by others (up to a point). In the past, Steve Jobs has been willing to allow iMessage technology to be implemented as standard in instant messaging, but on his terms; the company’s chances of following a Google guideline tend to be zero unless it is legally forced to do so.

Bear in mind that iMessage is precious to the apple, and as it will never be released for Android, it is unlikely that the company will open the door to implement third-party solutions on it, without it gaining anything from it.

In addition, Google will continue trying in vain to convince Apple to join the RCS, while Apple will maintain its position as a Walled Garden, and will not mix with the riffraff.

Source: Ars Technica, ExtremeTech

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