Google Cries Foul Over iMessage Color Scheme

John Lister's picture

Google has solved all the world's tech problems, tackled world peace, reversed climate change, and is now dangerously bored. At least that's the only rational explanation why it is now arguing with Apple on Twitter about the color that appears behind text in messages.

The ridiculous row is about the iMessage feature on iPhones that lets users send messages free of charge over the Internet rather than through SMS text messaging. Originally only iPhone users could send messages on the service but in 2016, Apple extended it to Android devices through a Google Play Store app.

Apple originally used color coding internally while testing ways to integrate iMessage with other messaging services. Its engineers used a green "bubble" behind the white text for iMessages, making it simple to see at a glance whether both Apple and non-Apple messages were getting through.

In The Bubble

Once the integration was complete, Apple decided to include the color system in the public version indicate whether the message came from another iPhone user or somebody on an Android handset using the app. The "bubble" behind the white text of a message is blue for Apple users and green for Android.

Some online critics suggest that it's a major conspiracy designed to create peer pressure in which the green background exposes the person as not owning an iPhone and thus not being socially worthy.

There's no way to know how representative this really is, but the Wall Street Journal quoted several young people as claiming the social division was "real." One noted that "people don't seem to like green text bubbles that much and seem to have this visceral negative reaction to it." (Source:

Green Is 'Gross'

Another reported being mocked for exchanging messages with a potential romantic partner who used an Android phone: "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, his texts are green,' and my sister literally went, 'Ew that's gross.'"

Hiroshi Lockheimer, a senior vice-president of Google, responded to the WSJ story by posting on Twitter to say:

"Apple's iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy. Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing." (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Do you care what color your messages are when you receive them? Do you know anyone that would care?

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Dennis Faas's picture

You know it's serious when the Wall Street Journal is publishing news like this. It must be a slow news day.

billgruber_12965's picture

Well, it should be pointed out that regular SMS messages received also are green. So green could be indicating a non-Apple device, or a message received via SMS even when from an Apple device (for example if the device is connected only to a cellular network or is not connected to iCloud). This certainly isn't anything new, it's the way iMessage has always worked, well before Android got into the iMessage scene -- and it is an important distinction to note since some iMessage features aren't available on other platforms (though the gap is closing).

doulosg's picture

The psychological effect of color is real, but sure, it's just a coincidence that Apple chose the poorer one for their competitor. I don't like Apple users just because of this kind of attitude.

Aerokats's picture

SMS messages have been that way on an iPhone since forever, but Google just had to find something to bug Apple about. If Android users are actually that paranoid about something they see on their not-so-smart phones, they should turn off their phones. Try semaphore flags, maybe.

doulosg's picture


russoule's picture

there is a background color on messages? never noticed it. read the message and be done.