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posted by martyb on Sunday January 09 2022, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the green-with-envy dept.

If you use an iPhone, you might have noticed that SMS conversations (green-bubbles) are harder to read than iMessage conversations (blue bubbles). That's not by accident — in fact, green bubbles weren't always so difficult to read.

You've probably heard of the green and blue text message bubble colors inside the iOS Messages app. On an iPhone, normal SMS text messages are colored green, while iMessage (Apple's iPhone-exclusive chat platform) conversations are colored blue. Many iPhone users shun the "green bubble" due to the fewer features provided by SMS. If you own an iPhone, you may feel the same frustration when trying to read a green-bubble chat, as they often feel harder to read than blue-bubble chats. That's no accident.

To begin, we have to take a trip back to 2011. As you may know, iMessage, along with the signature blue bubble, didn't exist until the release of iOS 5. Before iMessage was introduced, every message in the Messages app was green, as the only messaging supported at the time was SMS. Once they added iMessage to the Messages application on iOS, the blue bubbles came along with it to help differentiate between iMessage and SMS. Given that the Messages app has stuck with the same green bubble/blue bubble differentiation, it may sound like the hatred towards SMS isn't related to the color at all. However, along the way from iOS 5 to now, a tiny design change opened a user-experience chasm between SMS conversations and iMessage ones. This isn't a story about about the green or blue colors themselves — rather, it's a story about contrast, and its astonishing impact on our perceptions.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by pTamok on Sunday January 09 2022, @02:55PM (3 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Sunday January 09 2022, @02:55PM (#1211247)

    The whole iMessage 'experience' is messed up. Try writing a message and specifying that it is to be delivered as an SMS. You can't. There are many people who cannot receive messages from people with iPhones because the Apple software is deciding to try iMessage first, and doesn't always fall back to SMS.

    SMS messages are standardised across all phone operating systems, even on the cheapest of 'soap bar' phones. The exception is Apple. It's fine that Apple wants to promote iMessage within the Apple ecosystem, but iMessage intentionally breaks compatibility with SMS message delivery. It is lousy.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09 2022, @04:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09 2022, @04:36PM (#1211257)

    Doesn't Android have its own non-SMS/MMS data-connection messaging too?

  • (Score: 2) by pipedwho on Monday January 10 2022, @07:03AM (1 child)

    by pipedwho (2032) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:03AM (#1211446)

    iMessage works over an internet connection, which is distinct to SMS.

    When you send a message on an iPhone, it asks the Apple cloud servers to deliver it first, but the cloud server will only do this if the other phone is registered as an iPhone. The default fall back if it can't be delivered by iMessage/internet/cloud is to fall back to SMS.

    Sometimes a user doesn't deregister their iPhone on a number, and it can a week or two for the system to drop the number from their system. If a new iPhone comes online with the old number, the message can't be delivered as the crypto/account won't match. That can prevent an message going through to a new phone until the server resyncs and unlists the number.

    • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Monday January 10 2022, @07:34AM

      by pTamok (3042) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:34AM (#1211453)

      You are relaying and summarising how Apple say it should work: but the experience of many people is that even deregistering a phone number doesn't result in things working after the waiting period. Just do an Internet search for people's frustrating experiences with this, especially when group messaging is involved.

      Furthermore, iPhone users do not have the option of specifying that they want to send an SMS rather than trusting the iMessage 'service' to fall back correctly. Apple have removed that choice.

      As a non-iPhone user, I can send an SMS to anyone, Apple's ecosystem included. As an Apple user, I do not have that choice, and sometimes, due to iMessage's failures, I am prevented from sending a message to particular non-iPhone users indefinitely. It does not 'Just Work'.