Having predominantly used android phonesI am all too familiar with the stigma of being a “green bubble.” Every time I send a message to someone with a iPhone, my text messages appear in iMessage, the default messaging platform on iOS, but the app switches my messages from Apple’s secure but proprietary iMessage protocol to the old-fashioned SMS/MMS protocol. On iPhones, this changes the color of the bubbles on my side of the conversation from blue to green, giving my friends something to make fun of. It also means that many modern messaging features stop working: our conversation is not encrypted, I miss some messages in group chats, photos and videos can only be shared in low quality, and I can’t see read receipts.
In the last year, there has been a renewed conversation encourage Apple to adopt the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol, which would improve the texting experience between Android and iOS users and bring back many of those features. It has also given rise to applications such as Locatorwhich makes your messages turn blue even if you use an Android phone.
Nothing, the smartphone brand, has entered this provisional application market with Nothing talks. Currently in beta and only available for Nothing Phone (2) owners, allows them to send messages to their iPhone contacts without turning the conversation a bright shade of green. I have been using a beta version for a few days and although there are many errorsworks.
The elephant in the room? Apple has just announced that iPhones officially support the RCS standard next year. I don’t expect this to be the end of the blue-green bubble saga, but perhaps it’s best to wait for Apple to adopt it for the sake of your privacy.
Time to chat
After installing the app and setting up your Nothing Chats account, you’ll need to connect third-party services like iMessage with an Apple ID (you can create one without an Apple device). I had two-factor authentication turned on with my Apple ID, so I received a message on my MacBook about an Apple ID login attempt and I had to accept it and provide a verification code. You can also connect RCS through the Google Messages app so that all your text messages are sent to Nothing Chat. I don’t recommend this because I had issues with missing text message notifications and started receiving notifications for text messages that were sent months, if not years ago.
I had trouble finding the people I wanted to talk to on Nothing Chats. Some people showed up when I searched for their names, others just didn’t exist. So I manually found his number in my Google contacts list, messaged him through the app, and then added him as an existing contact. I kept getting “could not send” messages, but I found that if I waited a few minutes everything would work. Nothing Chats automatically sends a vCard first so the recipient can merge their new chat person with their existing contact information.
There are some strange rules you have to follow. The phone number of the owner of the iPhone you are sending messages to must be connected to an Apple ID on their iPhone, or you can choose their email address, which must also be set as the iMessage receiving address. You can only create group chats with people in iMessage. (I did a group chat with two iPhone owners and another Android phone owner, and sent my message, but never heard back from anyone even though they claimed to have responded. Maybe they hate me.)