We’re barely a week into 2023 and Google is already back to antagonizing Apple over the latter’s decision not to adopt the former’s RCS chat standard.
Google has been pushing a ‘#GetTheMessage‘ campaign against Apple for months urging people to use the hashtag to tell Apple to adopt RCS. Rich Communication Services is a communication protocol that aims to modernize texting by replacing the dated SMS and MMS standards. RCS includes several features that are common in other messaging platforms, such as high-resolution photo and video sharing, better group chat support, encryption, and more.
Google’s latest move is taking over a large video billboard at Harmon Corner in Las Vegas (where CES 2023 is currently going down) with a message for Apple:
“Hey Apple. It’s Android. The ball may have dropped on 2022, but you don’t have to drop the ball on fixing your pixelated photos and videos. Here’s some code to get the ball rolling…”
The billboard then scrolls through several lines of code before displaying “Help Apple #GetTheMessage” and showing the Android logo.
First time I’ve even seen an ad for android and it’s going all out
Despite the cheeky message, it’s unlikely this billboard will do much to sway Apple. The core issue is that Apple devices like the iPhone fall back to SMS and MMS when Apple’s iMessage chat platform isn’t available. Since iMessage isn’t available for Android (at least, not without hacky workarounds), messages between iPhones and Android devices happen over the older protocols. That means messaging is less secure and content sent via messages, like pictures, ends up looking blurry or pixelated.
Apple has avoided adopting RCS, however, since it would compete better with iMessage and reduce the feature’s lock-in. Back in 2021, emails revealed during the Epic Games v. Apple trial showed how Apple executives viewed iMessage as a tool to keep people on its platforms. And Apple still views iMessage this way, with CEO Tim Cook telling a journalist to buy an iPhone for his mom to fix messaging issues the journalist referenced in a question about RCS.
Beyond blurry photos, the iMessage system and iPhone’s blue and green text bubbles have contributed to a culture of exclusivity among kids with iPhones who avoid adding Android users to group chats.
The simple solution to all this is using third-party messaging apps like Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp, or others. Of course, it can be really difficult to get people to switch — most prefer to use the default messaging option (and I’m speaking from experience).
It’s worth noting this isn’t the first time Google and Apple have taken shots at each other using billboards in Vegas. Back in 2019, Apple advertised the privacy of iPhones on billboards during CES — similar billboards later emerged in Toronto.
You can find all of our coverage from CES 2023 here.