Android users have been wanting the iMessage app to become a part of messaging service on non-Apple devices.
Apple could actually have made a version of iMessage that works on Android devices, however, the company chose not to in order for people to keep buying iPhones.
Court documents submitted as part of a legal battle between Epic Games and Apple disclosed that the smartphone mammoth had made a decision as early as 2013 to not develop its messaging platform for rival phones following the launch of the messaging service with iOS 5 in 2011..
Epic Games alleges that Apple deliberately tries to locks customers into its ecosystem of devices, and that the power of iMessage is of one of the keys helping it to do so. It cites comments made by Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddie Cue, senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi, and Apple Fellow Phil Schiller to support its argument.
There would “have been cross-compatibility with the iOS platform so that users of both platforms would have been able to exchange messages with one another seamlessly”, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software and Services, Eddy Cue, confesses in a statement.
“The #1 most difficult [reason] to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage … iMessage amounts to serious lock-in,” according to an emailf from unnamed former Apple employee in 2016, prompting Schiller to respond that, “moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why.”
Having said that, this idea was shot down by Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering and the executive in charge of iOS, saying that “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones”.
Mr. Federighi also stated that it would be a “horrible idea” to “make it easier for someone to switch away from our platforms”.
The lack of iMessage on Android is one felt strongly by consumers, especially in the United States where iPhones make up nearly 50 per cent of the market.
This is because iMessage without a doubt works better than the default messaging apps on Android phones, which can lack functions such as read receipts, high-quality attachments, and typing indicators.
Over the years, there have been several third-party attempts to bring iMessage to Android, but all have been unreliable and require comprehensive workarounds.
Meanwhile, Google’s response to iMessage is Rich Communication Services. RCS offers typing indicators, read receipts, high-resolution photos and videos, larger group conversations, and interactive experiences with businesses, while end-to-end encryption is in testing.
Apple’s control over its ecosystem is a primary issue in this court case. Apple removed Fortnite from iPhones and iPads after Epic Games attempted to implement a workaround for users to purchase in-app items without using Apple’s App Store – thereby circumventing the 30 per cent cut that Apple takes from all purchases.
Epic Games, and other third-party developers such as Spotify and Protonmail, have stated that Apple has “near total control over the mobile ecosystem and what apps consumers get to use … with no oversight, regulation, or fair competition”.
However, Apple’s control on its software has loosened as watchdogs launch investigations into “suspected anti-competitive behaviour”.