The sooner Android accepts RCS, the sooner we can choose the next important messaging system

Last week, the world watched Apple announce its latest phones. As silly — though no less interesting — as Dynamic Island might be, the iPhone 14 series fails to fix one of the biggest issues with modern smartphones: messaging. A day after Apple’s keynote, Tim Cook took the stage at Vox’s Code conference, emphasizing the company’s stance on RCS: It doesn’t care, and if you want to send HD videos to your mom, you’d better buy her — or yourself — an iPhone.

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After months of increasingly desperate pleas from Google, it has cemented the status of cross-platform messaging as a catastrophic mess in the United States. Cook’s comments are a spit in the face, not just for Android users, but for any iPhone user who wants to text their friends without worrying about blue and green bubbles. That’s why it’s finally time to pressure your iOS friends and family to ditch their blue bubble group chats and switch to a third-party chat platform.

Let me say this up front: This problem is certainly a central issue to the United States. I am fully aware that iMessage is of almost no importance in most parts of the world. It’s a problem that arose more than a decade ago, when US airlines included SMS for free while other countries continued to charge extra fees, driving the popularity of services like WhatsApp with a small player remaining in the US. Unfortunately, I live in the US, so this struggle is all I know. To those US-based readers – Android and iPhone users alike – it’s time to come together and catch up with the rest of the world. If getting Apple to adopt RCS doesn’t work, you should convince your friends to download a new app.

Don’t get me wrong – this will be an uphill battle. iPhones are very popular in the US, and this user base is only growing. iMessage isn’t just a basic lock feature – it’s also a way to get people away from Android. Tim Cook said it himself onstage this week: If you’re tired of receiving or sending low-resolution videos, or if you’re tired of group chats being interrupted, or if you’re tired of being called a “green bubble,” Apple’s solution is for you to buy an iPhone.

And I hear you. I’ve been through this before. You tried it in 2012 when you convinced your family to jump into Hangouts. You tried it back in 2016, and convinced some of your friends to download Allo from the App Store. I called them the future of messaging. Either way, I was wrong.

Now that Google seems to stick with its messaging service – a respectable service at that – it’s disappointing to throw in the towel. RCS isn’t perfect, but it’s close to the “iMessage for Android” that people have been begging for years. It works with your phone number, it supports almost every Android device, and it’s almost automatic. But outside the US, no one really cares about RCS. And even in the US, RCS needs Apple to adopt it. Other than that, we’re stuck with the same issues we’ve dealt with for a decade: broken group chats and a lack of modern messaging features. Without some kind of strong interference — whether it’s from the government or carriers — Apple won’t add RCS support to iMessage for the foreseeable future.

So, it’s time to give up on the dream and make a final push to your friends and family to move to the cross-platform chat service. Fortunately, countless messaging apps are widely available on both app stores. If you don’t mind using Meta products, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram are right there. Your mom is probably on Facebook anyway, so getting her to text you via Messenger won’t take much effort. Don’t want to give meta access to your life? Subscribe to Signal. I’ve been using it for a few group chats over the past few months, and it’s great. It’s basic enough for anyone to learn how to use, even those who haven’t used anything but iMessage since the days of the sliding QWERTY keyboard. Make your friends jump on Discord or Telegram. All of these platforms are accessible on iOS and Android and can also sync with web-based or desktop clients. Crucially, it’s established – unlike Hangouts and Allo, it’s not going anywhere.

It’s hard work. It’s annoying. You will basically have to annoy and impress the people closest to you in your life, all in an effort to fix a problem that we have little control over. But that’s it – we can make these changes in our social circles just by begging our friends and family to download one last messaging app. And the timing is perfect. More than ever, iPhone users seem to be aware of the issues when messaging Android users and may be willing to change their habits to avoid headaches in the future. If there is one benefit to Google’s ongoing campaign, it is this.

So, one last time. Apologize to your loved ones for making them try Allo all those years ago—and frankly, they deserve that apology (you know?)—and promise that this will be your final appeal. No futuristic apps, no ads from Google. Jump on WhatsApp, Signal or any app of your choice, and leave the green bubble conversation in the past. We’d all be better off for that.

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