The experience of texting between an Android and an iPhone is not always seamless. Pixelation occurs in images and videos, messages from Android users appear on iPhones as the dreaded green chat bubble, and emoji replies are also present. The thumbs-up or heart reaction emoji that an iPhone user selects does not convert to Android; rather, it appears as an odd text description of the emoji.
Google has been working to address some of that, despite the ongoing difficulty in getting Apple’s support. Google said this week that Messages improvements will enable Android users to reply to iPhone texts using emojis. Other upgrades allow you to thread answers to specific messages, include YouTube videos right into messages, and, on some phones, obtain voicemail transcriptions automatically. Google is making a concentrated effort to improve Android messaging and put pressure on Apple to make concessions.
Rich Communications Services, a communications standard that Google has been pressuring its partners to embrace over the last year, has been the technical bone of contention in this spat. RCS manages media and attachments better than the SMS standard, which has long been the industry standard in texting. The problem is that while Apple has its own messaging protocol for usage between iPhones and other Apple devices, SMS is used by default when an iPhone user and an Android user are communicating. Apple also made absolutely no mention of migrating to RCS. As a result, many messages are mistranslated while moving between platforms.
Google publicly urged Apple to change its standards last month so that iOS texts would function properly with Android devices. But the impasse between the two digital behemoths persists in the wake of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s scathing rejection of the notion. With this most recent upgrade, Android users—or those pondering the switch—at least receive somewhat better messaging.