Apple Message Color Complaints Continue

John Lister's picture

Apple has previously been accused of "dirty tricks" against Android users when it comes to the iMessaging app. Now, one critic says Apple's choice of colors may be deliberate to make Android messages harder to read.

The dispute involves the way iPhones display chat messages that are sent over the Internet, rather than through SMS messaging that uses cellular data networks. This was originally an iPhone only feature, but from 2016, Apple allowed Android users to use it via the official iMessage app.

During testing, Apple engineers added a green background to messages sent from iPhones as an easy way to make sure the technology was working for messages from iPhone and Android alike.

Green Becomes Blue

When it launched Android support to the public, Apple switched things up. The green background (or "bubble") now appears on messages from Android devices, while those from iPhones appear with a blue background. Both use white text.

Apple's official story is that the different color backgrounds helps users set expectations because messages sent from iPhone can access some features that aren't available with the Android integration.

Earlier this year, a somewhat bizarre Wall Street Journal story explored a theory that the differing colors was a way to exercise social pressure by highlighting "uncool" Android users. The newspaper quoted several teens suggesting the social shame of a "green" message was real, though there's no way to know how representative this was. (Source:

Now a user experience designer called Allen Hsu says the colors aren't just a matter of style. Instead, he argues that the specific shade of blue that Apple uses for iPhone messages offers significantly better contrast than the green it chose for Android.

Contrast "Very Poor"

Hsu says this isn't just opinion, but that the contrast of white text and Apple's chosen green ranks as "very poor" on objective tests for web accessibility. He notes the brighter the screen setting, the worse the contrast.

He goes as far as to say "it is likely no coincidence that Apple intentionally picked a green that adds friction to reading Android messages to make users stick to iMessage."

Hsu adds that "it is almost a universal rule for designers to never sacrifice accessibility to make a design work since accessibility is a fundamental pillar of good design. " (Source:")

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find particular combinations of text and background hard to read on a phone? Do you buy the idea Apple deliberately created worse contrast for Android messages? Are people reading too much into design choices?

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Comments's picture

Can't a person change the colors? I changed my S22+ to purple bubbles and white text.

bigton's picture

If Apple want to highlight that I have not been taken in by all their hype then let them go ahead. I am glad I don't have an iPhone.

billgruber_12965's picture

SMS messages to/from non-Apple devices have always been green on the iPhone. This had nothing to do with an Android user using the IMessage app -- the same will happen just using SMS on the iPhone. Personally I have no difficulty with contrast and it is indeed useful to know if if another person is using an Apple device precisely because there are different features available.

Yes, I realize we're talking about the reverse here: the Android user seeing green. But my point remains -- if Apple was trying to ruin Android user experience surely their intent wouldn't be to mess up colors for Apple users as well.

matt_2058's picture

How petty can BILLION-dollar companies get? Boo-hoo. Quit using the app if not happy with it.

When I used android and the wife had a iPhone, there was a difference between how hers looked and mine looked. We both used the default built-in app to handle text messages. I eventually switched to an iPhone, but not due to such minor things like this. As a bonus, she could now send me a message from her iPad to my phone. With android, I was constantly installing and uninstalling apps because many did not work properly or required a different version of Android, and that version was restricted by the carrier. Don't have that problem anymore.