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Apple iMessage vs. Android green bubbles – a huge leap coming in iOS 17

Changes are coming that will make big differences between the two platforms

Apple iMessage vs Android

Looking ahead

iMessage is one of the apps that I use every day and apparently, the divisive differences that Apple versus Android has faced with the message app is spreading to another app when iOS 17 lands with us in a few weeks.

The iPhone versus Android war is about to get even more serious.

Second class

Apple has not been discreet in making iMessage as different as possible from messages on Android for years – almost paying careful attention to keep adding those tiny but meaningful tweaks year-on-year.

No end-to-end encryption and no typing indicator are two obvious differences that come to mind letting you know that you’ve just had a message from a non-iMessage/iPhone user – and of course the moment you see a green bubble you just know that the ‘poor’ mistaken individual that’s just messaged you has yet to see the light!

Well that almost second-class feeling that has solely been the domain of iMessage until now is about to become even more obvious – this time with the phone app.

Changes

I mentioned yesterday that Apple is adding Contact Posters to the phone app in iOS 17 which will highlight even further between Apple and Android users.

Contact Posters are possibly one of the bigger more obvious changes that are coming to Apple’s phone app. With Contact Posters you’ll select a picture of yourself and apply colour filters to them and individual fonts, which will then fill the entire screen, similar to the changes made to lock screens in iOS 16.

Once set, when you call someone their entire screen will be filled with your lovely face and name. So if you have a favourite pic that you like to use on socials you can now bring it to Apple’s phone app and make it more personal.

As Contact Posters is compatible with Apple’s CallKit tools for developers I’m guessing it will end up being used by Apple in apps other than just the phone app in time.

Trust me

In time Contact Posters will become something that we’ll almost expect to see to verify that the call is from a contact that you know and is trusted – you know the way you’re wary of someone on Twitter without a profile picture…

But there is nothing to suggest that this is yet going to be offered cross-platform. So, if you get a call from someone and there is no full-screen display picture you’ll know the call is coming from either someone you don’t know, a spammer or worst of all you know someone that doesn’t use an iPhone!

As far as I can make out the Contact Poster that you set will also transfer when you use another new iOS 17 feature that Apple will be rolling out – the humorously titled NameDrop.

Time to message

So far I’ve only covered the phone app, but Apple is also making changes to the iMessage app.

The blue bubble versus green bubble has been a real thing for years now and has been a driver to convince many under 20s to stay with the iPhone for fear of ridicule. Well, there is another feature coming in iOS 17 that could keep iMessage one step ahead of Android.

Over and above the bubble colour war, group chat for iMessage is another reason that Apple users love the messaging app over the Android equivalent, but Apple is never satisfied to rest on its laurels. Driving home the advantage Apple is adding Live Stickers to the iMessage app.

Although it sounds pretty cosmetic I reckon Live Stickers will end up proving a really popular feature – particularly for younger users. iOS 17 will let you lift a subject from a photo and then add it to the range of stickers that Apple already offers you.

Wrapping up

Apple as I’ve mentioned before is keen to continually give us small, life-improving features in each year’s iteration of iOS – and these ‘small’ features I’ve highlighted today are exactly that. They are also reasons to help convince us to stay with Apple and iPhone.

But, as you’d expect from Apple, they have ensured that you are still in control of your personal information and that you can individualise some of these features on your side.

For instance, you can limit sharing your carefully crafted Contact Poster to contacts only or require iOS to ask if you want to share it. And if someone in your contacts hasn’t set up a Contact Poster, you can make one for them – how very thoughtful of you!

It will take a little while to see if these iMessage & phone app features catch on or not. Sometimes these things tend to be slow burners. But if they do then it’ll make for another reason to stay loyal to Apple and iPhone.

So far Apple has shown little interest in making iOS friendlier to Android users and there are scant suggestions that they are about to cave into Google’s pleas to adopt RCS any time soon. And why would they – Tim Cook and Apple’s board would rather you simply buy an iPhone.

The $3 trillion company seems more than happy to widen the differences and conquer & divide.

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