Apple Backtracks On Messaging Apps

John Lister's picture

Apple has finally agreed to make its messaging service fully compatible with most other services. But, it will ignore requests to make non-Apple SMS texts green.

The move affects iMessage, the tool on iPhones and iPads that lets users send messages over the Internet through both WiFi and cellular data. It will now support RCS (Rich Communication Services), the standard for such messages.

RCS is a successor to SMS (short messaging service) which was the original way people could send text messages to one another. As well as working over the Internet (and thus not counting towards a monthly message limit), RCS adds a range of features such as high quality multimedia, read receipts and the ability to message multiple people through a group chat.

Apple had initially held out against adopting the standard. That meant that while it was still possible to send messages through iMessage to non-Apple phones, it will have some limitations including lower quality images and video.

Move May Have Been Forced

Apple is also keen to point out it isn't replacing iMessage. That service will still work as normal whenever one iPhone user sends a message to another iPhone user, with the messages fully encrypted "end-to-end". In theory at least, that means Apple can't decipher the content of messages even if wanted, or was ordered by a court, to do so. (Source:

Officially, Apple isn't giving a reason for the change of heart other than to "offer a better interoperability experience." (Source:

However, it may well have been legally forced to make the change under new European laws that require greater open access to major tech services. Although iMessage didn't qualify for the laws under an objective criteria based on the number of users, officials are considering whether it still qualifies under more subjective rules.

Android Users Still Feeling Blue

The change won't fix an issue that's a big deal to some people who really need to rethink their priorities. Messages sent from an Android phone will continue to show on a green "bubble" background when displayed on an iPhone, unlike the standard blue bubble background from iPhone users.

Bizarrely, some analysts believe this leads to a level of social shame that deters some iPhone users from switching to Android.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you pleased Apple has made this change? Do you think the European regulator pressures affected the decision? Should anyone care what color background is behind their messages?

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matt_2058's picture

A Nation dictating colors of txt msgs? I think they have more important things to be concerned about. I don't know what the big deal is about colors, so Apple should do what it wants. Anyone that feels shamed due to a text color revealing the brand of their device really has bigger issues that won't be solved by mandating a single color for everyone.

An iPhone user, I send myself a text msg when I need to make a quick note or reminder. In May, it stopped doubling up on the msg, showing only one msg instead of a 'send' and 'receive' repeat situation. All on the left side were grey and the right side was a mix of green and blue even though all were sent and received on the same iPhone. Now there are no repeats and the sent msgs are blue.

I think there's a mixup with the 'received' color description. There is no difference in color in text msgs I receive from Android or iPhone users as both are grey. The difference is the msg I send. A msg I send to an Android user is in green and the msgs sent to an iPhone or iPad are in blue.

Maybe it doesn't bother me because i use a PC laptop, iPad tablet, Android tablet, and iPhone. Maybe the issue is more about control, kickbacks, and corruption than anything else?

olds97_lss's picture

Having the quality get dropped down to such an abysmal level when anyone in a group text uses an iphone is kind of annoying. It's degraded so much that half the time, if you didn't know what it was they were sending, you couldn't make it out.