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I switched from Android to iPhone and here’s what happened

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I switched from Android to iPhone earlier this month, thinking that it wasn’t going to be a big deal. I haven’t needed iMessage or FaceTime to talk to my friends, because frankly there are so many non-Apple services that let you text and video chat in 2021. I’d thought for sure we’d moved past whether someone was a “green bubble” or  “blue bubble”. Then the following messages came from several friends:

“I’m so happy you are blue now!!!”

“Bienvenue a la Club Apple!”

“It’s about time.”

iMessage is nice, but it shouldn’t be vital.


Apple

These are all actual statements, whether through texting or in person, that friends being made aware of my switch have told me… and I simply do not understand why.

Yes, iMessage is convenient. Yes, so is FaceTime. While I personally wanted to jump back onto an iPhone for its most recent redesign and improved iOS 14.5’s app privacy controls, I didn’t expect it to make a difference for anyone in my social circle. Much less matter to the point of displaying fairly intense relief and jubilation.

During the last three years using Android on a Moto Z2 Play and a Pixel 3 XL, the same friends simply “met” me on other services. Many use WhatsApp for texting. Google Duo is my favorite way to video chat — and frankly already includes many of the new improvements coming to FaceTime this fall in iOS 15 such as invite links, Portrait Mode and chatting inside of any web browser. A combination of Facebook Messenger and Microsoft’s Skype hits most other contacts who aren’t into WhatsApp or Duo. And even a recent group chat that was trudging along on MMS shifted over to Instagram. (Alas: I wish more people had access to RCS messages

Despite the clear comfort people have for these non-Apple services, in the weeks leading into my device swap several of my friends told me their plans to quit those other services once I moved to iOS.

“You’re the only one I talk to on WhatsApp,” confessed a close college friend who previously told me it was super convenient…

Two friends I speak to primarily on Facebook Messenger told me about their excitement of moving our chat to iMessage and then I realized one of them had never even given me their phone number.

Signal and WhatsApp messaging

Signal and WhatsApp both offer encrypted messaging, whether or not you use an iPhone.


James Martin/CNET

And another friend rarely had any interest in doing video chats with me when I used Android, but now that they can FaceTime, I get unprompted calls.

My family, graciously, have not cared whether or not I’m using an iPhone. While I know using FaceTime is a preference for them, one thing was more important: does it work? So at least with them, video chats over WhatsApp and Skype are still viable.

Even Apple is starting to acknowledge that facilitating a fast and easy conversation no matter what device people are on is what’s most important. FaceTime opening up a little bit to include participants on Android, Windows and anywhere a web browser loads is a half-step: ideally when it launches it will let iOS people include anyone they want in a conversation but actually starting a FaceTime call looks to remain exclusive to Apple devices. In an interview with UrAvgConsumer, Apple Senior Vice President Craig Federighi acknowledged that opening up FaceTime has become what its customers want.


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“Very often there was someone in a large group who maybe didn’t have an Apple device and you don’t want to shut them out of the party and yet we didn’t want to have to use something other than FaceTime and so we thought as an Apple customer, what do you want, you do want to be able to pull in all of your friends,” Federighi said in the interview with the YouTube channel.

And while that’s great, it’s also about being competitive. Apple knows that if it doesn’t catch up with rival services like Zoom, that even the most loyal Apple customers may turn away from services like FaceTime. 

As for me, making the switch didn’t change much. I still communicate with everyone in my life. It’s just that now because of my “blue bubble,” it’s a little bit easier for my friends and family that prefer using an iPhone.

What’s your favorite apps for texting and video chatting? And is it particularly important for your friends and family to use iMessage or FaceTime? Talk about it in the comments.

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