A smartphone that does not support WhatsApp is as good as a kambudzi (feature phone) to most Zimbabweans. Imagine trying to take over the Zimbabwean market with such a smartphone. It would have some takers if it had solid cameras, batteries, design etc. but most would laugh it off.
That’s increasingly how it feels for smartphone manufacturers trying to take on Apple in the United States. Apple dominates the important US market with a 57% market share.
That’s nothing though compared to the following crazy stat: 87% of American teens use an iPhone with 88% expecting their next phone to be an iPhone too.
You can see how Android is doomed in the US. Gen Xers and older generations are dying off whilst millennials are greying out. Who is going to use Androids in the US in the future?
One major reason why Androids are failing to convince US teens to switch is iMessage. That instant messaging app, which is exclusive to Apple devices is their version of WhatsApp. So, imagine being a teen in the US and not being able to participate because you went for a fancy folding Samsung.
So, that means teens who aren’t necessarily fans of the iPhone end up using it just so they can be a part of the group chats.
Do note though that non-iPhone users can message their
sheep iPhone-toting friends. To understand how, imagine WhatsApp being combined with the SMS app.
That way, if someone does not have WhatsApp their message would get to you and you could respond to them with WhatsApp converting your message to a simple SMS so they can deliver it. I wish WhatsApp had this feature.
Of course, your SMS-using friend would not be able to access some WhatsApp features like blue ticks, typing indicators, the ending of images and videos etc.
That’s how it is for Android users sending messages to iMessage users. They can only send SMS and MMS, meaning that even the videos they send are compressed to a crazy degree and get to the iPhone users all pixellated and low quality.
If you’ve ever heard these teens talk about Androids taking garbage pictures, it’s because they really think so because when Androids send those images via iMessage (MMS) they get to the recipients in a terrible state.
This is why Google kept pressing Apple to adopt RCS, which to put it simply, is a new SMS standard that gives SMS some of the features we have come to expect from WhatsApp, iMessage and the competition.
Using RCS, iMessage users can receive pictures and videos in HD quality from their Android-using friends.
This is why we talked about: EU doing the lord’s work. Apple now bringing RCS support to iMessage.
Nothing is an exciting new Android phone manufacturer. I like their offerings even though I believe they try to model themselves after Apple a little too much for my liking.
Now, Nothing saw this teen iPhone usage in the US and realised it didn’t matter how good their phone looked, or how much they innovated, they were not getting the American teen. Which meant losing out on a whole generation and a bleak future.
They decided to bring iMessage to Android by hook and crook. They partnered with a company called Sunbird to make that happen.
Of course, this was not all above board, Tim Cook would never release iMessage on Android. Here is what Sunbird and others do.
It works by combining cloud-based servers and Android software. To start using Sunbird, you need to set up an iCloud account on a cloud server. Once you have done that, Sunbird uses a VPN to connect to the iCloud account. This connection is used to create a virtual iPhone on the server, which allows you to send and receive iMessages on your Android device.
The Android software works by intercepting SMS and MMS messages and then converting them into iMessages. The converted iMessages are then sent to the virtual iPhone on the cloud server, where they are relayed to the intended recipient’s iPhone.
Nothing decided to ‘skin and rebrand’ Sunbird as Nothing Chats and announced that they had iMessage on an Android. On this announcement, many people raised privacy concerns but Nothing and Sunbird assured us that all was in order.
Except it wasn’t. Sunbird misrepresented the security of their services. Multiple investigators claimed that the full contents of messages sent through Sunbird were accessible in plain text to both Sunbird and any quarter-decent hacker.
Your pics aren’t safe either. The investigators say “All the documents (images, videos, audios, pdfs, vCards…) sent through Nothing Chats AND Sunbird are public. Nothing Chats is not end-to-end encrypted.”
Sunbird dismissed this and gave their own evidence but those who know this stuff dismantled everything they said.
As a result, Nothing decided to pull Nothing Chats from the Play Store talm bout “We’ve removed the Nothing Chats beta from the Play Store and will be delaying the launch until further notice to work with Sunbird to fix several bugs.”
You’re thinking, those are not bugs. What’s great is that the Community Note below that X post by Nothing reads, “The bugs are security issues. The app logged every message in plain text and stored unencrypted data like text messages, images and videos.”
You gotta love Community Notes.
Sunbird on hold
To top it all off, Sunbird decided to put their service on hold talm bout they are investigating security concerns.
This could be the end for Sunbird and Nothing Chats.
So, dear Android user, you can rest easy knowing that RCS is coming to iMessage and so you won’t need to deal with sketchy services like these.
However, do note that Sunbird allowed you to send blue bubble messages. I don’t think Apple will change the colour of the bubble just because it’s RCS but if you care about the colour then that’s on you.
You’ll be able to send high-quality pics and vids using RCS, who cares if the text bubble is green? I know people care and it is what it is.
Apple the bad guy
In all this I am reminded of how I hate some aspects of how Apple. They actually like the bullying that Android-using teens get. They believe it creates an incentive for teens to choose the iPhone. It does and it’s just not okay in my book.
They have every right to do this but I don’t have to like it. I believe the iPhone can compete on its own merits without artificially restricting access to an app.
Think of a world where Samsung acquires WhatsApp and makes it a Samsung exclusive. Nobody wants that but its what the Americans are living through.
Thank God iMessage is not popular in these parts. Over here we can actually compare it to the competition and make our choices accordingly.