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US Gen Z and the iMessage Lock-In (twitter.com)
144 points by seapunk 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 242 comments



I switched to iOS (via a used iPhone on a BYOD plan) primarily for iMessage. I was tired of being the odd man out, missing out on things that were being planned via group messages, etc. Nobody was going to switch to an entirely different mode of communication just for my sake, so the existence of theoretical alternatives doesn't really matter. (And I do try to use Facebook Messenger for group chats, so as not to lock Android people out myself, since I've been on the other side of that and it sucks.)

But really this is Google's problem, not Apple's.

Google could have owned this space if they hadn't taken their eye off the ball and fucked up Hangouts. There was a period of time where everyone used Hangouts, and they did a brilliant job getting market penetration by including it in Gmail. It's cross-platform, so it could have been the lowest-common-denominator in over the top messaging services, the thing that everyone knew everyone else could use when you want something that's not SMS or kludgy MMS.

But Google snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, seemingly intentionally driving people off of Hangouts into other apps. This was incredibly stupid -- when you tell your users to switch to a different app, they may well switch to a competitor's. If they wanted to roll out additional features, they should have done it in Hangouts, not by building new services. (And RCS is garbage. I don't know who wants a carrier-dependent, unencrypted messaging service in 2019, but certainly not me.)

The lack of a viable iMessage alternative is entirely because of Google's failure to invest in the Android platform and produce one.


Thanks for bringing up how this is Google's fault -- or, at least, the failure of Google and everyone else who isn't Apple.

iMessage has lots of problems. I've screwed it up a lot of times switching SIM cards, I can never understand why it needs to know if I want to contact my iMessage contact by email or by phone number, or why the messages thread differently depending on what I use. But it GENERALLY works okay.

Meanwhile, I use Signal with one friend, and just about every time I launch the damn app on my phone or desktop, it complains that I need an update, or I need to re-link something, or my safety numbers of changed, or some such crap.

And it's all better than Messenger.

And all of THAT stuff is better than Google's incessant abandonware. I loved hangouts.. until I didn't.


>I use Signal with one friend, and just about every time I launch the damn app on my phone or desktop, it complains that I need an update, or I need to re-link something

If you regularly need to relink Signal Desktop, it is likely your disk is failing and corrupting the sqlite DB that Signal Desktop uses. Back up your other data ASAP!


I've repeatedly needed to relink Signal Desktop when launching it after long spans of non-use (months). The first time was probably at least a year ago, if I had to guess, and I've had no signs of disk failure.


I suggest trying https://wire.com with your friend, way less fuss than Signal.


Use Telegram, Luke! :-) It's almost perfect. The only thing I can imagine that could make it better is an option to sort its contacts list manually.


>It's almost perfect

All it needs is research-verified encryption!


Oh, come on! The $200000 bounty for breaking Telegram encryption is there forever. SHA-1 BTC piñata was broken in 2017[1], and MTproto still stands.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13714987


Russian government needed to use it's leverage on a telco to break into political activist's Telegrams[2] about the same time some script kiddies easily broke into dozen of celebs' iClouds.

[2] https://www.ft.com/content/74d5ce00-12dd-11e6-839f-292294709...


Using phishing and other social engineering to steal passwords is unrelated to breaking crypto.


We use Wire. It has none of those annoyances, works on the desktop, web, iOS, Android, has voice calls and conferences.

Also, Signal didn't quite work in the UAE.


Google's abandonment of Hangouts was phenomenally stupid, and it should itself really have just been an evolution of Google Talk. It's a symptom of something very wrong in the incentive structure and product portfolio management there where you have to roll out a new application to add a feature, and the various applications cannot interoperate. Perhaps the underlying issue is that none of these made money directly. For what it's worth, I still use Hangouts.


It's even more stupid when you find out that Hangouts is still alive and well for Google Fi customers. I'm one and I haven't stopped using Hangouts, even though most of the people I know on GFi use something else because they read it was being turned off.

The fact is, Google doesn't yet have a replacement for something they stopped developing years ago. It is completely insane.


Google has a nasty habit of making solid features/apps available for everyone, then building an in house device/service that can use said feature, then making that feature exclusive to their new service in an attempt to drive consumers to it. In the end they just piss people off and whatever they were trying to do fails.

The latest update to chrome on Android in the last few days removed support for 90/120hz devices. Now everyone who was enjoying a nice smooth chrome experience on the OnePlus 7 pro, Razer phone, etc. has a nice jarring switch to 60hz when they open chrome.

This happened at the exact same time as they announced the new pixel 4 would be a 90hz phone, with exclusive 'smooth display'. Bleh.


Have you tried the android version of firefox? I really dig it, especially because the desktop plugins still work in it. :D


I still use hangouts with my friends (because of its OTR feature) and none of us are Google Fi customers.


Google chat used to be quite popular. Blackberry’s BBM was also a popular and very convenient service but then a backdooe access was provided to Saudi Arabia and India.


> Nobody was going to switch to an entirely different mode of communication just for my sake

Please elaborate. No iPhone user has to switch from the "iMessage" app to the "SMS" app to reach an Android user or include an Android user in a group chat. While it does indeed involve a different mode of communication, it's all handled seamlessly in the background from the same app.

In fact, if it wasn't for the coloring, they wouldn't even have noticed, except if you exchanged other data than pure text, but I can't imagine this being a real deal-breaker for planning?

Note how the Twitter OP also explained how they were texting the Android student from iOS until they decided to abandon him and create a new group. Not because they had to switch to another app to reach him, but "because he was on Android and turned the thread green" (sic).


If you start an SMS (MMS?) group chat with >10 people, any AT&T customers (and possibly others—I'm not sure) attempting to reply will end up replying to 10 arbitrary members, leading to a huge pile of separate chats, each missing a few people. Even under 10 people, SMS/MMS group chats don't support features like adding/removing group members, among others. It's a substantially worse UX.


> In fact, if it wasn't for the coloring, they wouldn't even have noticed, except if you exchanged other data than pure text, but I can't imagine this being a real deal-breaker for planning?

People very frequently exchange data other than pure text when event planning: GIFs, map pins, tapbacks to express [dis]agreement, etc.


I get gifs and likes just fine on my Android from iMessage groups I am in. I can't tell anything is missing.


We can't _send_ the tapbacks though


Seems to work fine. I get gifs and "likes" off messages all the time.


The likes being sent as separate message completely defeats the point of the tapback, which is to register a reaction without spamming the screen with extra messages.


From that same twitter thread:

> The SMS protocol makes "tap backs" and stickers and other stuff work differently (and worse).


>In fact, if it wasn't for the coloring, they wouldn't even have noticed

I have. MMS always has problems, and can result in extra charges from mobile network if it’s an international number. iMessage or whatsapp gives me confidence that it’s using data only and I won’t experience any charges, I can use it via WiFi without a mobile network, it’s not tied to my phone number for when I leave the country and change SIM, and delivery of messages is confirmed.

I also prefer iMessage due to Apple’s stances on privacy, and integration with macOS.


> In fact, if it wasn't for the coloring, they wouldn't even have noticed, except if you exchanged other data than pure text, but I can't imagine this being a real deal-breaker for planning?

There are a number of things that iMessage does that SMS doesn’t support.


>Not because they had to switch to another app to reach him, but "because he was on Android and turned the thread green" (sic).

That's a sneaky odd bit of social engineering. Wonder how many iphone sales they've actually gotten because of this.


83% of US teens have an iPhone according to Piper Jaffray in April 2019 [1].

That number is biased, however, as 1) it's solely based on a survey done in high schools, and not every teen will feel comfortable admitting they have something else than an iPhone 2) the surveys are performed by DECA Inc. which is more affiliated with private schools and public high schools in affluent neighborhoods.

Still, I estimate that about 3 in 4 teens (and increasing) have an iPhone, either new or a model that was previously used by a parent who bought a new one. That's huge, and iMessage plays a very big role in that.

[1] https://www.ped30.com/2019/04/08/apple-piper-jaffray-genz/


I can't speak for anyone else, but my kids are likely to end up with iPhones at some point (the oldest is 9, so not anytime soon) because Apple's child/family controls for iOS, while far from perfect, are miles ahead of anything I can find on any Android devices. So now they have iPads, and the ecosystem just works for us so it will be natural for them to stay within it when they graduate to phones.


What's available in iOS but not Android? From my experience they're pretty close, but I may be missing something.


Purchase controls for TV, movies, apps, etc, which all actually work, screen time controls, time-of-day control, web site limits, etc. Along with reporting functionality and integration with parents' phones for ad hoc approvals and time extensions.

I haven't found anything on Android that allowed me age-appropriate fine-grain controls that didn't require exceptions like turning the entire rule off just to allow a single purchase, or having the same functionality controlled in two or three different overlapping spots, etc.

If you really want to see how bad it can possibly get, take a peek at Amazon's Fire Tablet parental controls. Those take the cake for opaque settings that sometimes do what they say, sometimes much more, sometimes nothing.


The most infuriating thing about Android/Google Play from this perspective is that there's no way to prevent a child from installing literally any and every free app which has the lowest rating.

On iOS you can disable installing apps, uninstalling apps, updating apps or disable the app store completely using Screen Time and before that you could (and still can) require a password/fingerprint/face ID for any app install including free.

It would take almost no effort from Google's part to replicate the last of these (add an option requiring a password to install any app, even free with lowest rating) but they seem to be unwilling to do so.


Huh? This seems to disagree: https://support.google.com/families/answer/7039872 - you can set approvals for both paid and free apps.


That only works if you set up a separate child account for a separate device and then manage it using Family Link.

If I want to hand my own phone over to a child for a while, there's no way (that I've found anyway) to prevent a child from installing all sorts of crapware on it.


On non-ancient Android versions you can have multiple user accounts. Create a new one and log it into your kid's family linked account. You can switch the user before giving it to them and they'll get the expected restrictions.


I'll give that a try, thanks!


What are the numbers like in the rest of the world though?


I can't imagine RCS getting the momentum to become a real viable platform. Even if it's integrated into Android phones and seamless from the users perspective the major carriers have no interest in putting forth the effort or making it a real thing. I suspect it will be a nice to have feature like "HD Calling" where calls have increased quality.

With Google lacking any real leadership in the Android division(See Wear OS) this problem won't be solved anytime soon. I recently switched from Android to iOS because I have faith in their ecosystem and vision. Sure it's a walled garden, but I'd rather have a nice walled garden that's tended to than a forest with no supervision, direction or purpose.


Google is moving forward without carrier buy-in: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/17/18681573/google-rcs-chat-...


Google always does what they decide is best. This is their main fault - they take the inane edge case and design a tool for it.

If they made spoons they'd be sharp. You'd cut your mouth on them, but they'd be insanely efficient at scooping ice cream, although entirely useless to a normal human as a spoon.


> RCS is garbage.

The _only_ universal _carrier_ solution for messaging is SMS. What does iMessage do to get to all cell phone users? That is the only thing that matters here. full stop.

I have many relatives that wanted me to "install" Whatsapp. I refuse. So whatsapp is the failure here? Or is it me because I refuse?

What is garbage is OOT.

Google is not the failure. Hell, the problem is right in the title of the OP: "Lock-in". At least google is trying to get SMS into the 90's.

You know what, I'm drunk and tired here... it's really just ignorant users that don't understand why everyone just doesn't use iMessage (apple proprietary) vs not understanding how open standard protocols and file formats work (email). We'll each be fighting this war till the day we die. It's in our nature.


> What does iMessage do to get to all cell phone users?

SMS fallback. iMessage is the default SMS app. You send a message to a phone number. That’s it, you’re already using it. If they have an iPhone too you get extra features.

From an onboarding and UX perspective it’s genius/obvious.


> What does iMessage do to get to all cell phone users?

It falls back to using SMS if you don't have iMessage.


I trust Apple for security a lot more than I trust my local telecom.


> But really this is Google's problem, not Apple's.

I'm not sure we agree on what the problem is? If Google monopolized years ago, the story would play the same - only now it's the kid without Hangouts/Gmail. Sure, you're not locked into a physical device, but you're still locked into a service, and that's not guaranteed to hold true forever.

IMO we need a modern messaging standard that's vendor agnostic. SMS/MMS were good but feel ancient now. XMPP seems promising but there's too many extensions such that it's nearly unusable for the layman. I don't see an obvious solution, and asking the top vendors to collaborate on a common messaging protocol seems like a far cry.


Matrix is the answer. Unlike all the other trendy competitors (Signal, Telegram, etc) it is both fully open source and—crucially—federated.

But just because it's the best technical solution doesn't mean it'll take hold. If the best tech always won, we'd have adopted XMPP a long time before Matrix was created.

Sadly, I'm beginning to think the only way we're gonna put a stop to this crap is to threaten companies like Apple with antitrust regulation for such actions.


I'd much rather be locked into one app than be forced into an entire ecosystem.


Users that promote priority network effects are bad for everyone else.

This isn't Google's fault. It's low education users who get whatever phone their parents bought.


> Google could have owned this space if they hadn't taken their eye off the ball and fucked up Hangouts.

And going even further back in time, RIM/Blackberry could have owned the space. Instead they focussed on hardware instead of the real driver of their sales: BBM.

Their market cap these days is $4b, while Whatsapp sold for $18b.

It didn't help that Blackberry's comms encryption for consumer devices was complete and utter garbage.


My son and all his friends just use discord. they are a mix of android and ios, discord or another third party app meets their needs.


It is interesting that the comments on the Twitter thread are "Just use WhatsApp". Which is basically iMessage but from Facebook. Comparing two, the vendor lock-in from Apple seems much preferable to the one with Facebook in light of the data scandals Facebook has and their ongoing effort to backdoor WhatsApp and integrate it with FB messenger etc. Also a group message is only as secure as its most weakly encrypted member and sms definitely loses there vs iMessage.

I would rather have Apple win the network effect here vs another data pimp like Google (who, ads aside, can't be trusted to maintain any communication platform).

I would much rather this all be standardized with end to end encryption protocols. (C'mon Signal!)


The most significant difference is that WhatsApp is at least platform independent. iMessage simply is not an option on Android - it's limited to iPhone users only and it doesn't seem like Apple has any intention of changing that. WhatsApp, on the other hand, can be used by whoever wants to download it.

It's still vendor lock-in. Just not to the same extent.


iMessage reverts to SMS when the recipient doesn't have an iPhone. All within the same app.

To what does Whatsapp revert when the recipient doesn't have Whatsapp?


Reverting to SMS is the problem, though. It gives participants the illusion that the conversation can be extended to anyone, but once they find out that the platform loses features and degrades with the addition of an android participant, that person is excluded so that the rest can keep using the full-featured platform.

The suggestion of WhatsApp is so that everyone can use their own phone and have full features. If someone wants to join the chat, then its on them to get on board with what everyone else wants.


> If someone wants to join the chat, then its on them to get on board with what everyone else wants.

However, when a community of people chooses Whatsapp as the exclusive form of communication, everyone in that community is forced to get that app or be left out of the loop. Those who object to installing Whatsapp because of the serious privacy controversies surrounding its parent are left with no choice.

This is where Messages shines, as it doesn't exclude those who can't or don't want to get an Apple device. And while the SMS fallback is indeed degraded, it still fulfills its basic promise: quick textual exchange of information. Additionally, if the recipient does get excluded because of the degraded experience, it shifts the fault and liability for not-knowing from the recipient who didn't want to accept the WhatsApp TOS to the senders who didn't provide the information because they didn't like the green bubble, although I'm fully aware that that's not how it always plays out in reality.

Neither approach is ideal, but I believe it's more important that no one should feel forced to install a proprietary app they don't trust just so they can stay up to date with their community, even if they are the single person objecting.

TL;DR Even though it falls back to its most rudimentary form, Messages by default doesn't cut off people that don't bring in any money for its parent. WhatsApp does.


I'd put the fault with the smartphone + software industry for failing to come up with a shared open/secure messaging protocol, with fault also to governments for not insisting on such a protocol, and fault also on people who willingly use proprietary systems including WhatsApp and Messages with rejection of "green bubbles".

The current situation of competing proprietary non-interoperable systems seems ridiculous.


My understanding is that the Signal protocol is exactly that and is even used (or at least claimed to me used) by WhatsApp under the hood, although obviously we shouldn't take them at their word re: the details of their implementation / that they aren't capturing / collecting / sending user input before and/or after the "ends" of the "E2E", so to speak.

The issue isn't as much the lack of an open and secure messaging protocol as it is an inability to build a social network on an open client that is as large as the ones that private corporations have been able to build with their closed source solutions.

Their adding of additional features into their messaging apps that add both usability and complexity makes this an even more difficult barrier to overcome.


matrix.org seems very promising!

I've been using riot.im for some time and have generally been pleased with it.


Read the article; the whole problem is Apple distinguishing between Android and Apple users.


Absolutely, but Whatsapp it isn't distinguishing any less between Whatsapp users and non-Whatsapp users.

Messages doesn't entirely cut you off from people who don't bring money to Apple, and it doesn't require another app to communicate with them. It will handle and integrate it all in the same interface with iMessage, seamlessly switching in the background to make that possible. Whatsapp, OTOH, plainly refuses to let you interact with anyone who prefers not to accept an intrusive TOS and bring in (ad) money to Facebook.

I agree that both apps have different approaches and both have pros and cons, but I don't support the suggestion that Whatsapp, or any similar app for that matter, is any less "vendor lock-in" than Messages.


In order to use Messages, you need to have an iPhone (which you need to buy from the same vendor who wants you to use and owns Messages). WhatsApp is just an app.

I'm unsure of what do you mean when you say you see the same "vendor lock-in" in both cases.


It's group chats that are the issue, not one-on-one conversations.


Whatsapp is free to download and works on cheap phones. Most of my friends do not have an iphone.


That's configurable and I have iMessage set to NOT revert to SMS for any reason. I know others who have this set as well.

Given the differences in authentication and encryption, I consider that feature to be a security hole. And honestly, in my experience it doesn't work very well.

When I need to chat with folks who don't have an iPhone, I use a different app, like Google Voice or WhatsApp.


In Europe WhatsApp was huge well before Facebook purchased them. From my own experience, the product has barely changed since then, so I don't really feel like it's a Facebook product (yet), and so while I dislike using Facebook services WhatApp is basically fine for now.

Almost everyone I know uses WhatsApp. Funnily enough my family are the only ones who don't, and use iMessage instead. This isn't an active choice though, it's that they are on an iPhone and using SMS, so they get iMessage by default.

This is a long way of saying that for many Europeans, "Just use WhatsApp" feels like an obvious response, why wouldn't you?


> I don't really feel like it's a Facebook product (yet)

Agreed. When they purchased it, people were obviously concerned, so they promised not to combine it with Facebook Messenger. But, at their F8 conference this year they announced they are going to unify them. So you're right when you say it doesn't feel like a facebook product yet. But, I guess it probably will at some point. I think we all knew this was coming though -- there's not much point in purchasing it if they're not going to leverage it one day.


> In Europe WhatsApp was huge well before Facebook purchased them.

FB purchased them because they were huge.


It is 100% a Facebook product. It is FB. I 100% guarantee all data mined from your WhatsApp account is linked either to your FB account or your shadow FB account if you never signed up.

Sure maybe the "experience" hasn't changed from a UI standpoint but FB is weakening WhatsApp's end to end encryption and mining your conversations so under the hood the experience is radically different.

There is a reason the founders of WhatsApp quit FB post acquisition (literally leaving hundreds of millions of dollars behind) in disgust over the privacy abuses Facebook was proposing. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/26/whatsapp-co-founder-explains...


You are making a bunch of assertions with no basis. WhatsApp's encryption hasn't been weakened. FB can't look at encrypted message content, neither can WhatsApp. A lot of people use WhatsApp because of the encryption guarantees, please don't spread unverified claims.


Facebook owns the communication end points and can do whatever they want with the message contents before they're sent encrypted.

Given their history, I would be surprised if they don't do some on-device metadata analysis.


>WhatsApp's end to end encryption and mining your conversations so under the hood the experience is radically different.

An anecdotal experience i might just chaulk up to coincidence if not for this but, was talking with a friend in WhatsApp something about babies, my friend was browsing Facebook at the same time about a minute or two after our conversation about babies, my friend started getting a bunch of baby videos popping in her Facebook feed that hadn't been there prior to our conversation.


Oh I know! I just mean that the product _feels_ nearly identical (apart from stickers which aren't intrusive) to how it felt pre-acquisition.


is there any evidence of WhatsApp conversations being monitored?


Last I checked:

Actual text of convo: not yet but soon. Metadata: yes.


So you believe whatsapp is not e2e encrypted? Or they're going to roll it back?


They don’t need to roll-back the E2E encryption, they can just access the data right there on the device after it’s decrypted and upload data back to FB via a sidecar. It will start with basic mining of content on the device with ‘anonymous’ summary or aggregate data being uploaded but it’s a slippery slope...


would you trust Facebook after the many ways they've sold your data?


Facebook doesn't sell data



I don't know if this is too self promoting, but I'm part of the YC SUS 2019 program and I'm building a product that addresses the issue of messaging lock in, as well as data privacy.

I'm building Thread - an ad-free, private social network for groups. It's an alternative to Facebook (Messenger and WhatsApp), iMessage and GroupMe. It's the best way to connect with, share content to, and interact with the people in your life.

It's a limited release right now (still in alpha), but please sign up and check it out at https://thread-app.com/register. EDIT: it only is available on desktop web at the moment to US based users. Anything else will most likely give you an error.

E2E encryption is something we are considering building. Right now, the promise is no-ads, no front-end tracking, and no selling data to third parties.

Happy to chat more about it and answer any questions (maybe this isn't an appropriate place for that discussion).


Seeing as apps like Signal and Telegram already exist and seem to do exactly what you say... What is different about Thread?


Sounds like a great idea. I'm a huge +1 to E2E encryption and mobile support – I'm looking for something good to replace WhatsApp.

Minor bit of very biased feedback – the name "Thread" is quite overloaded. Thread (my employer) is a clothing recommendation service, ThreadsStyling is a luxury fashion concierge, Thread Group are an IoT specification, Open Thread is an implementation of that spec I believe.


Yeah, I figured it was. I'm quite open to a name change (http://www.paulgraham.com/name.html). I have some ideas in mind. Thread is temporary at the moment.


How about Message.in?


or yMessage?


Can't seem to access the site. Could you elaborate on how Thread solves the problem of messenger lock in? Is it federated like Matrix?


What do you bring to the game now that Matrix exists? It's federated, E2E encrypted and clients are coming up nicely.


Site is currently broken.

Are you using ActivityPub &c?

Even if it is somewhat bulky, these linked data standards are the way to ensure you are creating the most open, reusable data possible on the largest stage.


FYI, the website is broken in Safari. Syntax error in the JS, totally blank page.



Love this XKCD. My response, as it might apply to what I'm working on, is that I don't just want to build a new messaging standard. It has to be radically better than alternatives to be sticky.


Yeah, I hear you -- but it was just so perfectly set up for it..


Apple vs Facebook? I'll stick with sms


Your mobile phone operator likely has no problem just straight up selling your data.

And also it goes pretty much in the clear through the global SMS network.


WhatsApp doesn't make you buy $750 dongles and force itself onto the rest of your life in order to communicate with your friends.


It does sell your data and is not secure.

What $750 dongle? You can get an iPhone for like $300 these days.

Forces itself into your life? How? Apple's data security is better than literally every other smart phone provider and its OS is fundamentally less intrusive than Android.


whatsapp messages are by default encrypted regardless of the used device, whereas imessages to android devices are simply plain text. Also which of my data does whatsapp sell, and in what way is the android operating system intruding on me? If anything ios intrudes on its users by tying key functionality of its messaging service (encryption) to the apple platform.

This post is honestly full of unfounded claims, like the rest of this thread. The HN bias towards apple as a company is straight up strange.


<in what way is the android operating system intruding on me?

Lol, you can't be serious.


I'm entirely serious. I have no idea what it even means for android to intrude on me in this context. I know what an intrusive app is, I don't know what an intrusive operating system is.


Android is one arm of Google's data collection apparatus. Using an Android device allows Google to do this: https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb. Is this intrusive?


Given that only I can see that data (which is even stated on that very webpage), no I don't consider it intrusive. If the provision of basic services by Google to me without third parties is intrusive, then ios is intrusive in the very same way because it is 'apple's data collection apparatus'. Apple, like Google collects a vast amount of data on its users.

And in addition i'm sure you're aware that google paid apple 9 billion last year to make it the standard search engine in apple's safari browser. Just a week ago we learned that apple stores significant amounts of its icloud userdata on third party servers despite not disclosing that fact to its users. (related article: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/01/apple...)

So if shoving vast amounts of data through the Google ecosystem is your definition of intrusion, you can add apple to the list.


I think it's important to also remember that you can use Android without any of the Google services since it's open source. The same can't be said of iOS.


Of course you're welcome to use any meaning of "intrusive" you like. I don't see any problem with having both Apple and Google, and many others, on that list.


Uh, that's a completely optional feature. I've intentionally had it on for over 3 years now, and it's one of the first things I turn on when I get a new phone.

You can also delete your location history data at any time.


You know, that you can turn off location history, right? In fact, it is a checkbox when you set up a new Android device.

And technically, it is not Android the OS that is doing this. It is Google Play framework.


I am super excited for the Librem Phone project but still think it is a way off from being a viable phone for most people.


You are forced to buy apps from Apple if you want to use iMessage. Forced to use Apple's crappy voice software. Forced to use Apple's crappy TV box if you want to mirror your screen.


But the flip side of all those choices are all massive privacy invasions or security risks.

Apple App Store is a walled Garden but the Banking App you get from the Apple Store is guaranteed to be the actual app from the bank it says it is. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/06/24/google-pl...) Plus the apps on the App Store are often of much higher quality than the Google Play store because of how much more revenue app developers can make on the Apple Store and the better demographics there for most company's targeted audiences.

Apple's voice software is worse because it doesn't do as much machine learning off device and it doesn't try to learn as much about you and communicate it home.

I haven't found any "TV box" to work all that well with a phone. AppleTV does seem to be comparable to others.

These are all trade-offs and subject to the individuals preferences. But saying Non-Apple products don't also "force you" or have trade-offs is misleading.


What in the world are you talking about!? WhatsApp doesn't invade your life just to talk to your friends.


You don't buy apps from Apple, you buy them through Apple's app store (an important difference).

You can use other voice assistants, you just can't set them as the default (which is a reasonable complaint)

As an Android guy, I have to say that after trying Rokus, Fire TVs, and chromecasts the Apple TV is far from crappy and is honestly one of the best smart TV boxes. Anyway, you can also buy a lightning to HDMI adapter if you want to mirror your screen.


Of course you buy apps from Apple. That's why Apple, worth gobloads of money, can impose a 30% tax on independent app developers' labor.

You can't even tell users how to subscribe without giving Apple a cut if you're on iOS. To any normal person that's an egregious abuse of power. Somehow people on HN just suck it up.

Does WhatsApp force a particular voice assistant or app store on you? No? Apple's lock in is abusive.

Stop prostrating in front of trillion dollar megacorps for $deity's sake. Apple is probably the biggest blind spot this site has.


Google is also taking 30% when someone purchases an app through Google Play, and they also take a 15% cut of subscriptions as well, so it's not just Apple.

Google forces their App Store and Assistant on you. Your Android phone manufacturer also forces other garbage on top of that as well as locking you into a version of Android with no guaranteed upgrade path. See: Samsung and Bixby.

Get your facts straight, or at least take off the blinders that is your hatred of Apple.


Of course Google is also bad, but it at least allows sideloading and other app stores.


Which also opens up a nice new attack vector.


Talking about what non-google manufacturers do to some phones, and then about attack vectors while accusing someone else of having blinders on? You're firmly in moving-the-goalposts territory now.


You’re going to have trouble convincing people because ultimately Apple and Google are hugely different.

The non-Apple base have decided that Apple is just overhyped over-expensive gear which is only slightly more polished and a lot more locked down than whatever their favourite thing is.

Apple users use Apple products because mostly it’s just honest. You get what you pay for, no hidden agendas, no up-sell.


Every single Apple device has a hidden agenda — to make Apple even more powerful than it is today, even more of a bully.

All concentrations of power are bad. As a society we must always seek to reduce power imbalances, not perpetuate them


All for profit companies have that agenda- it is very much NOT hidden.


Apple pushes it further than anyone else. You can install other app stores like F-Droid on Android.


> Does WhatsApp force a particular voice assistant or app store on you? No?

WhatsApp is not a mobile OS.


Neither is iMessage, but only one of them forces you to use a particular mobile OS, conveniently made by the same trillion dollar megacorp, to use it.


you aren't forced to use their voice software, and the major TV brands all have airplay built in now so you don't even need Apple TV... But yeah iMessage is on iOS though I don't see how you must buy apps to use it??


My biggest issue with Apple is that they force you to use Safari. The total inability to run an alternative browser is a no go for me.


What button do I hold down on an iPhone to activate Google Assistant from the home screen?


The Google Assistant icon, assuming you have it installed.


> Forced to use Apple's crappy TV box if you want to mirror your screen.

Even the most basic of google searches proves that not true. There are literally dozens of ways to use AirPlay without an Apple TV (or even using any Apple products besides the phone), let alone additional ways which don’t involve Airplay.


No, no, and no. You don’t need to do any of those things to use iMessage.


I do notice a pattern of misunderstanding that I've also observed when talking with Android users IRL.

iMessage is very different from Whatsapp. For starters, there is no dedicated iMessage app. iMessage is managed from the iOS Messages app, which handles both iMessage and SMS. It's very good at managing both from one unified interface. In fact, it's so good that it uses arbitrary coloring of messages so you can see what message was sent through iMessage and what message was sent through SMS, because you would often not be able to tell otherwise as it's all in the same interface.

A lot of caveats apply here, but broadly speaking, while an iMessage user is typing a message, Messages will contact Apple to check if the recipient is also an iMessage user. If yes, it will try to send the message through iMessage and color the text bubble blue. If no, it will go through SMS and the bubble gets a green color. If iMessage fails in the first scenario, Messages will offer to revert to SMS.

So unlike Whatsapp, Messages doesn't care if the recipient has iMessage or not. And it also does not care if the recipient has an iPhone or not. It will get the message over regardless, as long as the recipient can receive SMS, which any Android phone can. Whatsapp, OTOH, does put the onus on the recipient to have the app. In other words: when it comes to the recipient, Messages (the app) is actually a lot more inclusive than Whatsapp (the app).

These HS teens aren't locking others out because they can't text their Android friends. They perfectly can, as OP from the Twitter thread also acknowledges, from the same app that they use to text their iPhone friends. They lock them out because Messages colors the bubbles green, which has become a social stigma in our high schools. Nothing more, nothing less. So it is not a technical limitation, and neither is it a cost issue, as virtually all wireless plans include unlimited (SMS) texts in the US. It is purely a human factors issue, which teens of all times and generations have been very prone to. As sad as it is.


I think you're drastically misunderstanding the issue here. Everyone knows how Messages works in regards to the switchoff between iMessage and SMS. It's not like it's some secret that the Messages app is capable of also sending SMS. The problem is that it's also not a secret that SMS is objectively a worse experience than iMessage, especially for group chats.

Why do you think the kids don't like it when a thread is green? Do you think that the kids just don't like the color green? That's not it. They don't like it because the thread being green is an indicator that nearly everything about the group chat experience is going to be worse. Messages will be drastically slower, they will have a higher failure rate, pics/videos sent over that chat will be lower quality, there will be no typing indicators or read receipts, there is no ability to label the chat, likes and other message indicators are more cluttering, etc.

It isn't just high school kids, either. I've seen people at work intentionally exclude android users on group chats because we needed fast responses from people and the 2-3 second delay each way on MMS (and that's best case. sometimes it can take minutes for a single message to go through, if it goes through at all) is intolerable when you're trying to have a fast paced conversation with many people. I've had my friend group (people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s) intentionally exclude android users because they were tired of always worrying if one of their MMSes wasn't actually received by everyone in the group (in groups with android users, MMS failures happened enough to have multiple ruined plans because some people in the group never got all the messages being sent).

This is not just a human problem. These people aren't excluding Android users just because they think blue is a cool color and they want to bully green people. They're doing it because there is a very clear technical issue with SMS where it is very lacking in features compared to iMessage. The colors just happen to be a very easy way to signal whether or not you will be using the superior iMessage or the inferior SMS/MMS.


Regarding the work-related messaging, sounds like neither iMessage nor SMS is suitable for the job, and one of the many cross platform full featured messaging apps should be used instead.


Sorry, but group chat over SMS is crap. Lots of Android phones as well don’t operate group SMS well, you get reduced resolution in photos and videos, can’t like/heart messages in the same way, no typing indicators, etc etc. Losing iMessage features sucks when you’re otherwise used to it.


> reduced resolution in photos and videos

This and group names are the absolute killers.

It's tough. My understanding is that SMS is at fault under the surface, requiring that images and videos be compressed to fit a size limit (right?).

My preferred solution would be mandated adversarial interoperability.

Absent that, I wish android could bundle images into a dead simple hosting site that send me a link to all the images, at max resolution, displayed with zero chrome whatsoever, in a browser window. Then I can download them like normal assets (with my press-and-hold browser utils. no third party UI).

Receiving photos packaged in a google library, for example, is a nightmare.


SMS doesn't support pictures at all. MMS is layered on top, where a hidden sms is received telling the phone to fetch the media via http. That is why you can receive text messages without data, but not pictures.

I don't know the details of the MMS spec, but I know the mms picture quality improved when I switched carriers several years ago.


> Absent that, I wish android could bundle images into a dead simple hosting site that send me a link to all the images, at max resolution, displayed with zero chrome whatsoever, in a browser window. Then I can download them like normal assets (with my press-and-hold browser utils. no third party UI).

I would not be particularly happy to find out that someone I was messaging on an Android phone could easily just send up any images I send them to a public site.

(Already not happy with Google having data about me that I do not consent to thanks to people with Android phones)


>I would not be particularly happy to find out that someone I was messaging on an Android phone could easily just send up any images I send them to a public site.

There may have been a misunderstanding here.

I was referring to an android phone sending me (on iPhone) hosted images as a fallback rather then sending them via MMS (lossy) or google photos (bloated).


It's not really public if it's an "unlisted" url with a sufficiently long/random URL. You could also have them expire after some reasonable amount of time.

As far as Google having data... I'm not clear how what OP proposed would give them any more data than they currently have.


MMS is also extremely unreliable compared to iMessage (as I mentioned in another comment thread). Messages are often delayed by upwards of 15 minutes, and I can't send or receive at all if I'm somewhere with less-than-perfect cell coverage (including my home and work). Additionally, some cellular plans can't receive MMS at all, and I've seen some Android phones unable to receive messages sent to a group larger than 8 or 10 participants.


That's subjective, but your observations are valid in many scenarios.

The point I want to make is that Messages is not preventing them from including Android users because they don't have an iPhone, which is a general misunderstanding that I often observe when talking with Android users who use Whatsapp or similar and is also recurring here. If the Android user gets locked out, it's because a human decided to, not because Messages refused to include that user based on ecosystem lock-in (unlike Whatsapp).

However, like Twitter OP, I can testify that teens attach a lot more weight to the blue/green than they should. But then again, it's everywhere in popular culture. Try finding a recent hit movie/TV series or music video, produced in the US, that shows green bubbles (or Android for that matter, even though it has a higher market share).


> teens attach a lot more weight to the blue/green than they should

Have you looked at parental controls for carriers? Chats with green messages are in the log, chats with blue messages are not.

Depending how much they like their parents reading their messages, maybe teens aren’t attaching enough weight.


Parental controls: teaching teenagers all over the country the value of end-to-end encryption.


> Try finding a recent hit movie/TV series or music video, produced in the US, that shows green bubbles

I imagine they get paid for using blue bubbles, just like other product placements.


>no typing indicators

That is a feature. Also no "seen" privacy violators.


Agreed on the "typing" thing being somewhat invasive. I'm not sure that can be turned off...

In iMessage, the "seen" notis (read receipts) are set on the reader side. They're totally customizable and can be globally disabled.

I have them on personally, because I find that it encourages good reply etiquette on my part, but they're easy to turn off in a granular way. chat-by-chat, whenever you want.

I'm not sure how this works for IG, others. I believe in whatsapp you can turn them off at the expense of losing that info for everyone else, but I'm not 100% on that.

The feature is extraordinarily useful in group chats. If you're trying to change venues while coordinating a group activity with people that haven't arrived, you get a realtime picture of who has up-to-date information and who doesn't. Makes a big difference.


Read receipts are disabled by default IIRC. In the rare cases where I'm drafting a message long enough to worry about the typing indicator, it's usually easier anyway to compose it in a text editor/notes app and copy/paste when I'm ready to send.


IMHO the bigger problem with group chat over SMS is that some networks (looking at you AT&T) limit the number of participants in a group SMS chat to ten. If you try to send a message to more than ten people it sends it ten of them, silently ignoring the rest, leading to weird fractured SMS group chats.


you are right about the limit of ten. but it may be part of the sms specification itself. at least that’s what i remember from looking it up a couple years ago.


Nothing stops the phone from sending multiple sms, its the implementations fault


But so what? It still works if a bit worse. The same can't be said for any other group messaging app. If you truly need this tool for the job, buy an ipod touch for $100.


Except there is more to it than just the green bubbles.

- Reactions to messages

- Any applications in group chats

- Encrypted

- Seen and typing indicators

The biggest single thing that I actually care about. There is a nice button "Leave this Conversation" I can click on an iMessage group chat, and it leaves the conversation.


Nobody ever mentions the security aspect. The group that would be otherwise e2e encrypted if SMS people aren't involved. Green-texting the entire group chat removes that, so it goes beyond just some visual inconvenience. But more likely, they're locking them out because SMS users cause media in group chat to be down-converted - it's a user-experience factor.


They are locking their Android friends out of group messages, which are very popular among that age group.


Based on that Twitter thread, they are starting new group messages that don't include their Android friends and abandoning the original group message.


The same applies. Messages can perfectly handle group messages that include a mix of iOS and Android users. Unlike Whatsapp, Messages doesn't require that every participant has Messages, nor that they have an iPhone. Messages will send each and every group message to every Android user in the group using SMS.

But it will color the bubble green. And that's why they get locked out.


> But it will color the bubble green. And that's why they get locked out.

You seem to be attaching too much significance to the color. It really is because the experience sucks over SMS. The annoyance with the green color is just a symbol of that frustration. I implore you, to try having a meaningful group chat with a mix of users. Having just one Android user instantly degrades the experience for everyone involved.

> Unlike Whatsapp, Messages doesn't require that every participant has Messages, nor that they have an iPhone. Messages will send each and every group message to every Android user in the group using SMS.

Messages isn't the problem. Group SMS is.

You are forced into transitioning out of a group chat model, to a broadcast SMS one. All the usual issues apply - increased delays/out of order messages, no read receipts, Android phones randomly creating multiple smaller groups or just shitting out completely.. Any semblance of real-time destroyed.


> You seem to be attaching too much significance to the color.

I'm not. That is what the Twitter OP indicated as the actual reason.

He was left out "specifically because he was on Android and turned the thread green" (sic). Or in the student's own words: "we would start a new group chat, and the group would realize I was the reason it was green, and they would start another group chat without me". Nowhere is mentioned that the degraded experience is the reason.

It could be that that the SMS experience is the reason when it comes to adults who are mature enough to leave the green/blue behind them but have a lot less tolerance for poor UX.

But for teens - which is what this thread is about - I fully agree with OP's conclusion that the social stigma surrounding the color is the primary reason.


I feel that teenagers aren't as different from adults are you think they are, although they might be more likely to consolidate their frustrations with something pithy like "bubble color".


> turned the thread green

This is a short, colloquial way of expressing all of those frustrations. It’s assumed everyone knows already, not some aesthetic thing.


>It could be that that the SMS experience is the reason when it comes to adults who are mature enough to leave the green/blue behind them but have a lot less tolerance for poor UX.

From poor country to rich country, I have never met teens who are less tech savvy than adults. If anything, adults have problems even understanding the difference between SMS, MMS, and other messaging protocols. Teens are the ones using the new features from iMessages, not most adults.


To be clear, it doesn’t go green because Android, it goes green because SMS.

iPhone users not signed into iCloud, Messages just does SMS, and they’ll turn it green too.


There isn't a misunderstanding – this is classic embrace and extend 90s Microsoft.

iMessage is ActiveX, not a gift from a benevolent dictator, especially not a gift to the world


It's misleading to just say "because of the green text" it's so much more than that. If you have an active iMessage chat and users are using iMessage features, it's a weird experience for the non-iMessage folks. It seemed like a real victory to have emojis in the UTF format, but of course now Apple turns on the big FU and finds other ways to chide non-iMessage users.

Don't blame the kids.


It's not just a weird experience for "the non-iMessage folks," it's a weird experience for everyone just because MMS is missing so many features in comparison to iMessage. Last I checked, it wasn't even possible to add or remove someone from an MMS group without creating a new group from scratch. Additionally, MMS is unreliable in my experience -- oftentimes, messages are delayed by upwards of 15 minutes, and it doesn't work at all if I'm somewhere with less-than-perfect cell coverage (including my home and work).


Emojis are a Japanese thing. Apple didn’t enable them at first in the States.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji


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> But the kids want to discriminate

Nah it's just easier to have it baked-in as native functionality.


Why does approximately no one outside the US use iMessage then?

Yes, it's easier if you have $750 to spend and are willing to cede control to a trillion dollar megacorporation. It's impossible if you're already on a different platform.

Sometimes being inclusive means doing some work, going out of your way a little. Having to download another app is not a huge burden. The fact that kids aren't doing it is an indictment of American culture first, Apple second, adults third, and finally the kids themselves.


yeah fuck americans am i right

totally has nothing to do with the fact that it's a built in app where you don't have to do anything extra to set it up

no-sir-ee

it's the americans who are bad!


Effectively no human with a smartphone outside the US finds having to install an app to communicate with other people in a cross platform way a burden enough to stay with iMessage.

Either Americans are uniquely lazy when it comes to installing apps on their phone, or this argument doesn't hold any water.


A false dichotomy. One third option: there are network effects at play in America that aren't at play in Europe. Consider the relative market shares of the iPhone. US: ~58%, e.g., Spain: 25%. [1] Thus, when one boots an iPhone in the US, roughly 60% of one's friends already have this functionality. And that market share likely skews towards self-selecting groups such as teenagers. Also note that sending an SMS doesn't have as significant of a historical drawback in the US as it does in Europe. There may be some limitations, but, again, given the market share, it's unlikely one is going to reach one's SMS limit texting grandma. Thus, because US people can be more accommodating in terms of messaging with other phones without a third-party app, it's a perceptively useless install in America. Pretty much apps like WhatsApp are only used by US people with Android devices for communicating outside of the US. Otherwise, it's unlikely a US person needs to do anything other than send an SMS, and, hence, the green bubble.

[1] https://deviceatlas.com/blog/android-v-ios-market-share


or maybe, since it's already built in and works just fine for them, they use it

most people don't give enough of a shit to install another app to chat with people when what they have is just fine

friendly reminder that most people don't give a shit about tech in general and just want to use things that work

you can calm your hate-boner for america whenever you want


That's not how it works. These kids didn't create the stigma for the green bubble. Popular culture did, big-money TV, movie and music productions did, and teens are the most susceptible.

Try finding a recent US-produced music video or hit movie/TV series that shows a green bubble (or Android for that matter, as it still has a higher market share).


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You can't seriously be comparing iMessage usage to racial segregation. I refuse to believe this is a real comment.


Plus, by ensuring your kids use SMS instead of iMessage, you can be assured of your own ‘inclusion’ in their text chat logs through the cell carrier’s parental log.


Non-imessage doesn't mean SMS. There's lots of e2e solutions that work cross-platform.


Lock-in doesn't last forever: just ask ICQ, MSN, and BBM.

My sister used all of those things as she was growing up in the 2000s and 2010s. The flavour-of-the-day is now iMessage. She sometimes complains that I'm not on the system (supposedly handy to group chat with our mom), but I can't be bothered to follow the latest fad.

We'll see how long that lasts. Maybe at some point the telcos and phone makers will eventually get around to supporting RCS:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Communication_Services


I'm not sure the comparison is that neat. Everyone was on BBM until most people stopped using a BlackBerry.

iMessage will live on until most people stop using an iPhone in the US because iMessage is guaranteed to be present on your iDevice and usually works reliably enough for a vast majority of the population.


Yes, that's the point: there were, are, and will be, protocols or technologies that are popular and it will be Very Important that you use them. Until they're not important.

Maybe Apple will be better at staying relevant than Research in Motion/Blackberry.


RCS isn't end-to-end encrypted, unfortunately :(


Sure, but it'd be nice to have some of the other features that it offers.


I honestly don't mind green texters in my iMessage groups, but when it becomes really apparent is when we forget about the android user and start adding reactions to messages, which come in as texts. Then it becomes really obnoxious. I've never seen people break out into a separate iOS-only group, but chats have definitely devolved into mocking the text-substitution for message reactions by recursively reacting to text reactions, which get absurdly long. And then it ends with someone sarcastically suggesting the android user buy an iPhone.

I feel that if I was a teenager and not an adult, this kind of frustration must result in regrouping iOS only.


This has been going on for decades with MS Office. I recently proposed to an elderly acquaintance that they get a Chromebook because a full Windows installation was causing them so much trouble, but they couldn't because their peers edited one specific document using MS Word and for some reason it caused trouble when people edited it online. And that's just at the individual level, MS Office lock-in is a fact for so many organizations. People who really care about consumer choice, competition, and the free/open option should be vigorously working against these issues.


I'm sure you already tried this, but did the Word app for Android work for the edited document? With Chrome OS support for Android apps, that might a solution for your acquaintance.


This was before Android for ChromeOS was released. But they just wanted a Windows laptop, because they thought it was the only way they could confidently edit documents in their group.


Is WhatsApp not used in the US? Honest question.

I'm in EU, I moved to an iPhone a few years ago and I've yet to receive an actual iMessage, but my friends, local or international, all use WhatsApp. I just use regular SMS for more "formal" messaging, such as with my boss or landlord, or to receive OTP codes.


I see WhatsApp used in the US among folks with relatively large networks of international acquaintances. For those with more domestic social networks, pplain SMS, iMessage, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger seem to be more common among the general population. Signal, Telegram, Discord, and Slack are pretty prevalent with techies.


Is GroupMe having a resurgence? I remember using it in 2011-2012 but it seems to have disappeared with the rise of FB messenger.


Before moving to the EU I mostly used Hangouts/SMS, but now that I'm back in the US I use a mixture of Hangouts/WhatsApp. I knew a few people in school with iPhones but only a few of them used iMessage over Hangouts.

I think the most popular apps in school for group messages were apps specifically for group messaging, and I can't even remember the names of any because they were so short-lived. The one I used most had a blue speech bubble icon with a # in the middle. I'd put big money that Facebook Messenger fills that void now.

My guess is the majority of SMS usage in the US nowadays is just 2fa and automated messages, with the occasional text to an acquaintance until you add them somewhere else.


I've never seen anyone use it in the 15-25 age range for U.S. . I downloaded it once to talk to a friend from The Netherlands, but then we switched to Viber


I've never met another American that uses it.

I use Facebook Messenger for talking to real-life friends and a couple of online friends, Discord for talking to people I only know online, Slack for work, and SMS for talking to my parents.


Aside from a couple of friends in Japan, everybody I talk to regularly uses either iMessage or Telegram. I might have used WhatsApp 3 or 4 times in total since I first got a smartphone in 2009.


Yup, i have group that "Just use WhatsApp", and group that "Just use wechat", the thing is installing and switching app is easy, but with imesssage, you really have to switch phone, thats way more troublesome.


It's been refreshing moving the majority of my messaging to Telegram with a bit of Signal on the side. No worries about what platform people are using or that our data is being mined and sold to advertisers. Using iMessage is pretty much a fallback to people who are tech illiterate. The user experience on Telegram is so much better than the other options, and its privacy & security are good enough for my purposes.


Good for you that you could convince all of your friends and family to switch messaging services, that’s not realistic for most of us. Not sure what you’re going on about for tech illiteracy, iMessage is end-to-end encrypted and the feature set is perfectly fine.


Encrypted unless an Android user is involved which is the case here.


iMessage is end to end encrypted by default. Apple couldn't market with it if they wanted to.


I’m 24 and this is why I switched to iPhone 6 or 7 years ago, I was being left out of group chats.


It's not just about it "being green", the contrast between the text and the background is lower with the green SMS bubbles than the blue iMessage bubbles, making it harder to read. I guarantee you if the SMS bubbles were a shade or two darker green people wouldn't care as much.


Its pretty interesting that Apple, who pride themselves so much on form, chose that undeniably unpleasant shade of green.


I think its on purpose. Associate an unpleasant color with Android so if you ever switch from iPhone to Android you know you will show up as the same unpleasant green on their phones.


It’s not Android, it’s SMS. Text an iPhone user who isn’t signed into iCloud, it uses SMS, and is green.


Does that... ever happen? As a casual iPhone user, I don't remember ever signing into or out of iCloud for anything. I assume I'm probably signed in at all times?


That shade of green pre-dates the introduction of iMessage blue. It's the original default for SMS/MMS from when that's all that iPhones suppoorted.


It's very much by design.


In the beginning, the mnemonic was green texts cost money, blue texts are unlimited like blue sky.

Also that green was popular then.


I opened Message on my Mac the other day to type a message to a friend. It switched to green and was not successful. WTH? Grabbed phone and asked him. Oh I moved to an Android. Painful. The fact that I have to use the phone to text him bugs me to no end.

My current group of core friends are storing a party tomorrow and it is simple as it is all the blue text and I can read the messages on everything I own. Having to revert to SMS would be painful.

The funny thing is a few years ago we would all use Google Talk...yah.

Looking at my “chat” folder on my iPad, phone etc, I have Google hangouts (work and gmail friends), LINE (Japan, Korea, Singapore), Meet (google for work meetings), Discord for gaming, and Webex (work for customers that do not use Google for email). It is painful.

I did drop IRC a few years ago..

Only if XMPP had really won...oh well.


I can send SMS, MMS, and iMessages just fine from my macOS. Never had an issue. I assume SMS/MMS needs a mobile network connection from your phone though.


You have to have the feature on that let’s you take calls from you iPhone on the Mac. I do not want that on, but you are correct.


I don't see how this proves tangible lock-in. Teens can be brutally arbitrary when it comes to finding ways to exclude others or simply manufacture cliques to exert dominance/influence over the lives of others.


It's a major bummer that Apple got the network effect bonus for "SMS++" (really any IM solution that has the combo of being ubiquitous, usable without setup/technical skill, and polished).

I have a hunch that most people who use these tools for group chat purposes don't really care about the features of iMessage that make it horribly incompatible with SMS clients (e2ee, pairing with computers), and just want what amounts to a Discord/Slack/whatever non-threaded channel, but on their phones and with good UX. That shouldn't have to mean lock-out.


iMessage is far more reliable, has richer features, never needs app updates (bc they come with the OS), E2E by default, and media attachments send faster and more reliably than SMS.

I don't blame them. SMS is terrible. And most of the other apps suck or are from untrustworthy companies.

Apple's being rewarded for good behavior.


Being integrated into the system is not necessarily a good thing. https://www.phonearena.com/news/iMessage-exploit-allows-hack...

In that case you can't even remove it to protect yourself.


Apple fixes this stuff quickly enough for it to not be a huge issue, and if they ever needed to make iMessage a separate app like Android does with theirs they could do it. I'm certain they could remotely make it show up in the App Store in a moment's notice if needed. App store has root access, it can do it.


Those who forget BBM are bound to repeat it


I don't blame them. If you're in the ecosystem, with an iPad or a Macbook you have iMessage there too without installing a Facebook or any other intrusive or untrustworthy apps.


Green bubble means limited features, and accordance with the 1990s SMS standard (who knows if anything over 160 characters will be split up, etc).


I’ve been using iOS from the iPhone 3G onwards and have gradually migrated my whole family from a plethora of assorted platforms (my sister was a Blackberry fanatic, my father didn’t want to let go of his Treo) to iOS. However, when it came to creating a “family chat” group, I went with WhatsApp precisely to avoid this kind of lock-in.


If friends decide to exclude you from their group because of what messaging technology you use, then I have some bad news for you: They're not really your friends. That kind of behavior is not compatible with what most of us would expect of a healthy friendship.


That would be my response as an adult. I'm not sure if this is as easy to see by kids. But for teenagers, I think it's an interesting conversation: "Your friend will exclude you if you don't spend hundreds of dollars on a tech gadget, even if a no-cost solution exists on their side. What do you think about this?"

If it's an activity group they really want to belong to, that's ok. If it's between friends who want to stay close... something's not right.


Seems like a US thing - I noticed in Europe most people use WhatsApp for group chats.


WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are the two that seem widely used in the UK. I know a few people using Signal and Telegram too.


honestly havent been in an imessage group chat since groupme came out


They never had a monetization plan and don't charge for use and their last re-design was in 2012? How do you think they make money? Either they don't and they are going to disappear soon or they do and they are just another data pimp.

They got bought by Skype awhile back which is being shelved in favor of Teams. I bet MSFT shuts it down once it remembers it still exists.


Skype for Business, which is not Skype at all, is being shelved in favor of Teams.


Groupme came out before iMessage


It's not a real solution, but I'm kind of surprised no one has hacked up some type of iMessage forwarder for Android + an old Mac.


I think I've seen a few on HN over the years.

Here's a random one that seems to be recent: https://airmessage.org/guide/


Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

1. Apple embraced SMS with the original iPhone

2. Apple added encryption and other enhancements to messages which were not compatible with any other phone

3. Extinguish users who use traditional SMS/MMS by downgrading quality of service and disabling enhances features

What we really need is a universal internet messaging protocol like Email, something that everyone agrees on and can deliver the rich experiences people expect today


How did they extinguish anything? The new added features to iMessage are not part of the SMS spec. They didn't take any features away, or degrade the experience.


> What we really need is a universal internet messaging protocol like Email, something that everyone agrees on and can deliver the rich experiences people expect today

I believe the lowest common denominator will eventually win, something like HTML or email. That may be Matrix.


I'd like those minutes of my life back.


Well, it is a bit unfortunate they didn’t standardize on something cross-platform like Whatsapp. But if they had, would the situation really be that different?


Everytime I post about "green bubble" discrimination on hackernews, people act so surprised just like this father on twitter, and then talk about how vapid and fake people must be to care about that

You know what people - iphone users - actually say when there isn't mixed company?

"Android users, especially self-identified ones, lack social cues in many areas"

It goes way beyond an android user letting people know about how much control they have over their phone, which is already missing the cue of nobody caring. It goes beyond green bubbles, which is just the effect and litmus test which has now expanded to a worse user experience in rich interactive group chats.


> You know what people - iphone users - actually say when there isn't mixed company? "Android users, especially self-identified ones, lack social cues in many areas"

I'm just quoting the parent comment because it's hilarious. People can gauge your culture by what brand of phone you use? Can you buy a used iPhone and mingle with the cultured elite?


Android has about 40% market share in the US [0], are you claiming that 40% of the us are unable to identify social cues? I have a hard time believing that this isn't just classism. Most of my friends from poorer areas, especially the ones who grew up without access to the internet, have an Android. And my group chats with them work pretty well since android supports the open standard RCS

[0]: https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/united-sta...


I don't think it is a social cues thing either. I switched back and forth between Droid and Apple for awhile until I read some fairly disturbing predictions on how all these personal data warehouses could be used to digitally enslave us. I am not sure it is a social cues things, although I will concede frothing at the mouth Android and Apple fans are not people I like to be around.

TBH the biggest driver towards Apple for me (aside from privacy) is now that I am older and have kids and more responsibilities at work and don't have time to tinker I don't want to have to figure out what the best messaging app for my phone is. (I gave up using Linux in favor of MacOS as well for similar reasons).

(Cue all the neckbeard Linux/Droid guys without a family or kids saying "its not hard you just need to...<vaporize 30 minutes of your Saturday or evening>")


> (Cue all the neckbeard Linux/Droid guys without a family or kids saying "its not hard you just need to...<vaporize 30 minutes of your Saturday or evening>")

Now we're talking, and this is a social cues thing.

For example, a discussion about airdrop - which many android users don't know they are missing - often has an android user rationalizing their existence about some other convoluted way to share images maybe offline that is still worse.


I do know that type of person and yes it is not fun. Or they recite all the specs of a new Android vs iPhone and how you are such an "idiot" for being an Apple sheep. When really you don't care that much and the price difference isn't significant. Not to mention side by side your iPhone is noticeably faster in a real world test of launching the same app, browsing etc.

Convincing those people that specs are mere indicators and do not matter in the face of objective UX...impossible.

Really comes down to what you are optimizing for.


This, along with classism, along with a now worse user experience in mixed company, is what leads to people to just isolating themselves from people with "green bubbles".

And to top it off, the "green bubble" person is mostly oblivious to that happening too.


For context, I'm not a huge fan of either, I've used both. On iOS, Airdrop is very useful, especially if you also use Macos. On the Android side, I use Google Assistant all the time and find it to be much smarter and more convenient than Siri. I use Windows and the default messaging app on my Pixel, and being able to text from my computer is really convenient (you can do this if you have an iPhone and a mac, too). Honestly it doesn't make that much of a difference which you buy, 99% of what you'll be doing will be the same on either phone. The main thing pulling me back to iPhones is the fact that they stay updated for much longer, but I'm stuck on Android for now because of how easy it is to find pirated movies and cast them to my TV.


> disturbing predictions on how all these personal data warehouses could be used to digitally enslave us

When I read about trends like the one discussed in this thread, I feel that those who exclude based on technology preferences are more "enslaved" than I could ever be by giving Google my data. Their social behavior is directly controlled by the whims of a large corporation. I understand that it's a product issue but I have a hard time imagining that Apple will do anything to make the whole ecosystem better without benefiting themselves first. Only reason to help Android fit in better is to compete with Facebook, and Messenger probably isn't a big enough competitor right now to trigger a response. So until competition becomes an issue, Apple will continue promoting social exclusion to the detriment of society and likely the mental health of teens, who are already experiencing more depression than prior generations. How is that better than data collection?


When you say 40% market share, you mean by count of handsets?

Headcount is not “market”, market is dollars to spend.

When comparing Android and iPhone in the US, you need to compare % of wealth, or of disposable income, or some closer indicator of ‘market’ than head count.

Wallet count, not head count.


> I have a hard time believing that this isn't just classism.

It is also classism, but not just.

> Android has about 40% market share in the US [0], are you claiming that 40% of the us are unable to identify social cues?

No, but they are getting weeded out all the same along with the privileged enthusiasts that do miss social cues.

> Most of my friends from poorer areas, especially the ones who grew up without access to the internet, have an Android.

Yes, android use, and continued aversion to switching, will more often tell you a lot about someone's price sensitivities and not just their preferences. Its usually the HTC Obsolete, not the sexy flagship device. We all know people have payment plans or some other kind of multi-year lockin for a lot of their phones or got them for free in the bad part of town from some group trying to provide basic opportunities, so its not a cheap decision to get an older cheap iphone (assuming they actually wanted that). So its always a mixture of price sensitivity and preference which people weed out from their social circle since the beginning of time, with few exceptions. Throw in a worse user experience for mixed company on top of that and its the perfect storm.




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