Why Android Messaging Is So Terrible
In my former life as a tech podcaster, I used to switch phones, smartwatches, and tablets with my co-host for the entire month of January. He was an Android guy and I was all Apple all the time. This was always an entertaining experiment (to us anyway) and made for many good discussions that you can still watch on YouTube if you‘ve got some extra time on your hands.
For the most part, I loved my time with Android. I liked customizing my home screen (although Apple lets you do that now), sending Star Wars holograms with the first Pixel phone, and just learning a different mobile OS. But what I always hated was messaging. It wasn’t just knowing that I was turning into a green bubble for my friends, although that was abhorrent (I’m exaggerating…a little). The real pain was that Apple (used to, at least), make it very difficult to leave iMessage. Switching to SMS broke the functionality of group texts I’d started. I couldn’t send or receive some messages, but not all messages, which was somehow worse. It’s not like I don’t message with anyone who uses Android. It’s just that switching back and forth isn’t easy. And I’m sure this is by design.
It’s not like Google and others haven’t tried to come up with a solution to this problem that Apple created. In his story, “Death by 1,000 Cuts: How iMessage Complicated Texting on Android,” Omar Zahran explains, “Google is trying to re-create iMessage without the full control that Apple has over its hardware and software relationship and the results have been a mixed bag.” Read Zahran’s full story about how the creation of iMessage in 2011 fits into the larger history of mobile messaging and how text messaging on Android could be improved.