The “green bubble” stigma is a very real thing and, partially, for good reason. When someone with an Android phone joins a group chat with iMessage users, it strips away a lot of useful features, but Apple is somewhat improving that in iOS 17.
One of the improvements not mentioned by Apple is with group chats in iMessage that contain users on Android. While this upgrade is sadly not RCS, iOS 17 does keep most iMessage features working when the group includes someone on Android.
In previous versions of iOS, an iMessage group chat that included someone on Android (or anyone using SMS) would strip away most of iMessage’s best features. That includes threads, text editing, and more. As the folks over at XDA showed in a demo, iMessage in iOS 17 now retains many of these features.
Group chats that contain both Android and iPhone users will still allow for text editing, threaded replies, and even full photo quality, while videos are only slightly compressed now.
The catch, though, is that this only works for the iPhone users in the group. Edited texts aren’t reflected for Android users, and both images and videos will remain compressed to fit the woefully outdated limits of SMS/MMS. Threaded replies also work differently for Android users, as those texts will be passed along via SMS, but not in the order the iPhone user intends.
The good thing here is that, clearly, iPhone users will benefit from better group chats regardless of who is in the group. However, the side effect that they won’t see is that Android users will, in some ways, get a worse experience because of this. With threads out of order and edited messages just not appearing at all, it will be even more difficult to grasp the context of some conversations.
Where RCS is something that could benefit everyone, Apple just seems as though it’s doubling down on ensuring messaging between Android and iOS is as terrible as it can be.
As detailed by our colleagues at 9to5Mac, iMessage in iOS 17 will also improve group chats by automatically scrolling to the last unread message, something that should be very helpful for group chats with lots of members. You can see more about iOS 17 from 9to5Mac below.
More on iOS 17 from 9to5Mac:
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