The sooner Android accepts RCS is dead, the sooner we can choose the next messaging platform that matters

Cross-platform communications is possible, as the rest of the world has demonstrated, even without RCS.

The world watched when Apple unveiled its newest smartphones last week. Although the Dynamic Island is amusing, it doesn’t make one of the greatest problems with contemporary smartphones—messaging—that much less serious. Tim Cook announced the company’s stance on RCS at Vox’s Code Conference the day after Apple’s keynote: it’s not interested, and if you want to send your mom high-res videos, you’re better off getting her — or yourself — an iPhone.

It demonstrates the awful status of cross-platform messaging in the US after months of progressively pleading Google. Cook’s remarks are a slap in the face to all iPhone users who want to text their pals without being concerned about blue and green bubbles, not just Android users. It’s finally time to encourage your iOS-using friends and family to switch from their blue bubble group chats to a different chat app.

Let me be clear right away: this is a US-centric problem. I am perfectly aware that in the majority of the rest of the globe, iMessage is practically irrelevant. It’s a dilemma that dates back more than ten years, when US carriers decided to include SMS for free but other nations continued to charge extra, allowing applications like WhatsApp to gain enormous popularity while staying a minor player domestically. Unfortunately, because I reside in the US, all I have ever known is suffering. It’s time to band together and take the lead from the rest of the world, fellow US readers, both Android and iPhone users. If you can’t convince Apple to use RCS, you’ll need to convince your friends to download the new software.

Don’t get me wrong; it will be difficult to win. In the US, the number of iPhone users is enormous and continues to rise. Not only is iMessage an essential lock-in feature, but it also serves as a lure for consumers to abandon Android. This week, Tim Cook declared as much on stage: “Apple’s solution is for you to buy an iPhone if you’re sick of receiving or sending low-res videos, if you’re sick of group chats breaking, if you’re sick of being dubbed a “green bubble.”

I understand you. You have experienced this before. In 2012, you gave it a shot by convincing your family to use Hangouts. In 2016, you gave it another shot and succeeded in persuading some of your pals to download Allo from the App Store. You referred to them both as the messaging of the future. And you were mistaken in both instances.

It’s disappointing to give up now that Google appears to be continuing with a messaging service, and a good one at that. Although RCS isn’t flawless, it comes the closest to being “iMessage for Android,” something people have been pleading for for years. It utilizes your phone number, is compatible with almost all Android devices, and is almost automatic. But nobody outside of the US is actually concerned about RCS. And RCS requires Apple to use it for it to even matter in the US. Otherwise, we’re stuck with the same problems—broken group chats and a lack of contemporary messaging features—that we’ve had to deal with for the past ten years. Apple won’t soon bring RCS support to iMessage unless there is some sort of coercive action taken, whether it comes from carriers or the government.

So, give up on the dream and try one last time to convince your loved ones to switch to a cross-platform chat service. Thank goodness, both app stores offer a ton of chat apps. There are Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram if you don’t mind using Meta goods. It won’t be difficult to convince your mother to text you over Messenger since she presumably already uses Facebook. Not interested in allowing Meta access to your life? Register with Signal. Over the past six months, I’ve used it for a number of my group conversations, and it’s amazing. Anyone can learn how to use it because it is simple enough, even those who have only used iMessage since the days of sliding QWERTY keyboards. Get your friends to join Telegram or Discord. All of these platforms can sync with web-based or desktop applications and are available on iOS and Android. They are crucially entrenched; unlike Hangouts and Allo, they aren’t disappearing.

It takes effort. It’s irritating. In order to address a situation we have little to no control over, you will essentially need to nag and influence the individuals who are closest to you in your life. But that’s all it takes to bring about these shifts in our social networks—all we have to do is urge our loved ones to download one last messaging app. The timing is also ideal. More than ever, iPhone users appear to be aware of the problems that can arise while messaging Android users and may be eager to modify their behavior in order to prevent further difficulties. Here is the one advantage of Google’s continuous effort.

thus, one final time. Promise your loved ones that this will be your last plea and apologize for forcing them to try out Allo all those years ago. They truly deserve your apologies (Allology?). No announcements from Google about upcoming apps. Jump on WhatsApp, Signal, or any other app of your choosing, and ignore the discussion in the green bubble. We’ll all benefit from it.

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