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Apple CEO Tim Cook's fix for those pesky green text bubbles? 'Buy your mom an iPhone'

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks onstage during Vox Media's 2022 Code Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Jerod Harris
/
Getty Images for Vox Media
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks onstage during Vox Media's 2022 Code Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Sorry, Android users.

Those green bubbles that appear around text messages you send to your friends and family with iPhones don't appear to be going away anytime soon.

Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to reject the idea of adopting a new messaging protocol on the company's devices that would make communicating with Android users smoother.

"I don't hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy in on that at this point," Cook said about implementing the RCS standard on iPhones, according to The Verge. He was speaking during Vox Media's Code 2022 event on Wednesday.

Apple uses its own iMessage service.

When Vox Media's LiQuan Hunt complained to Cook that his mother couldn't see the videos he sent her because they had different phones, the Apple chief replied: "Buy your mom an iPhone."

The blue and green bubbles, explained

In the early days of mobile messaging, cell phone users could send each other short text messages of no more than 160 characters. That was called SMS, or Short Message Service.

MMS, or Multimedia Message Service, built on that by allowing users to send a photo or short video.

Now texting is much more than that. That's where RCS – which stands for Rich Communication Services – comes in.

RCS is a new messaging standard used by Google and other telecom companies that supports group chats and read receipts, lets users send higher quality photos and videos and has end-to-end encryption, among other features.

If it sounds a lot like iMessage, that's because it is.

But iMessage is only available to Apple users. When an Android user texts someone with an iPhone, their message appears as an SMS or MMS message, because Apple doesn't support RCS. Hence the pixelated images and buggy group chats.

Texts sent via iMessage show up as blue bubbles on iPhones, while their SMS/MMS counterparts are green.

Google rolled out RCS for Android users in the U.S. in 2019. The company has launched a PR campaign aimed at shaming Apple into adopting RCS, but so far the iPhone maker hasn't budged.

Internal Apple emails showed executives arguing that allowing iMessage on Android devices would "hurt us more than help us" and that restricting the app to Apple users had a "serious lock-in" effect, according to The Verge.

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