It’s that age old tech debate: iOS versus Android, and more specifically, the blue bubble versus the green bubble.
“The green bubble is just ugly in general for me… I don’t know. I don’t like it,” said Drake Bond, of Valencia.
I caught up with Drake and his friends outside the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita and they all had strong opinions on the topic.
“At the end of the day, Android and iPhone together in a group chat is ruined,” explained Bond.
iPhone and Android users know that when it comes to exchanging messages, group chats, photos, and videos, they just aren’t the same when they’re being sent between the two platforms.
“Video is all staticky kind of… and laggy in a way… you can’t really hear anything,” said Dominic Barnwell, a student at the college.
To be fair, Apple partially engineered this divide, because iMessage isn’t available on Android and Cupertino hasn’t yet adopted a more modern texting standard called RCS, which would smooth things over.
In fact, last year Google ran a campaign to raise awareness over Apple’s reluctancy to adopt the standard, but it didn’t really resonate with consumers who love their iMessage.
“Just as a business case in terms of selling more phones and keeping the iPhone ecosystem locked down, [it was] very very smart,” said Patrick McGee, a Financial Times reporter in San Francisco and author of a recent article explaining that Gen Z smartphone users are overwhelmingly iPhone and even feel a social pressure to stick with it.
“It’s sort of like the digital equivalent of ‘if you don’t play golf you’re not sort of in the room where the real decisions happen,’ but in a high school level and a digital level,” said McGee.
People are fiercely loyal to their phones, especially iPhones, but Android users will defend their handsets, too.
Mariana Patino told me she’s proud to carry her Android, a Samsung model. In fact, she says her messaging chat with her Mom was ruined when she switched to iPhone.
That’s because many Android-to-Android conversations use a system similar to iMessage that lets users send full resolution photos, large videos and see when someone is typing or read their text.
“It’s just a phone… I’m able to call, I’m able to text,” said Patino.
But she has considered a switch.
“There’s times when I’m like oh maybe an iPhone… but I like my phone for what it is,” said Patino.
There’s also a halo effect. For every iPhone sold, Apple sells iPad, Apple Watches and AirPods. For Samsung, it’s much less so.
“The sort of ecosystem advantage that Apple has, I think is just on a different scale than anyone else,” said McGee.
There are ways around this message divide. Apps like Snapchat, Telegram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger all work equally well cross-platform.
But, for an entire generation, seeing “blue” is all that seems to matter.
“I think … the whole green text blue text is more online humor, people making fun of each other,” concluded Ben, a student studying to be a firefighter. But “it’s definitely a thing,” he added.