Nothing has unveiled a new feature for the Nothing Phone 2 called Nothing Chats. Nothing Chats enables Android users to enjoy features akin to iMessages, including the coveted “blue bubbles,” directly on their Android smartphones. This innovation has the potential to diminish a significant competitive advantage that the iOS ecosystem has held over Android.
If you’re wondering about “blue bubbles” and why “iMessages on Android” is significant, here’s a quick explanation. iMessages display blue bubbles when texts, photos, and videos are sent between iMessage users. Similar to WhatsApp, all iMessage users need is a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection to send these messages free of charge.
On the flip side, iMessages show green bubbles when iOS users communicate with non-iMessage users on Android. Additionally, these messages are sent as SMS or MMS, leading to charges for some iMessage users sending messages to Android.
But it doesn’t end there. Due to Apple’s refusal to implement RCS support in iMessage, iMessage to Android chats lack encryption, and users miss out on features like read receipts and typing notifications, standard offerings on platforms like WhatsApp.
This absence of features makes “blue bubbles” crucial for some iOS users. It frustrates iMessage users accustomed to full access to the messaging app’s features and contributes to the stigmatization of Android users whose “green bubble messages” stand out. The “green bubble” stigma is particularly pronounced among Gen Z US consumers, as evidenced by Bloomberg Intelligence survey data revealing that 79% of US Gen Z prefers iPhones over the competition.
However, with Nothing Chats, Android users will now be able to access a variety of iMessage features, including the coveted blue bubble, when they send messages directly from their Nothing Phone 2.
In its press release, Nothing stated that its goal in introducing Nothing Chats is to support freedom of communication among people, regardless of smartphone brand, and to remind smartphone users that they have a choice in device selection. Nothing also revealed that Nothing Chats is being launched in partnership with Sunbird, a messaging service provider, who will power the underlying technology while Nothing designs the app.
In a YouTube video released alongside the announcement, Nothing CEO/Co-Founder, Carl Pei, disclosed that Nothing Chats will also offer privacy features such as saving data locally on the phone and not on the platform. Sunbird reaffirmed this on its website by stating that it provides end-to-end encryption for its technology to ensure messages are private and secure.
We are curious to see how Nothing and Sunbird will achieve this, considering Apple’s historical protectiveness of iMessage. Sunbird has reportedly stated that it is not using any hacks or questionable techniques to accomplish this feat, but it has been rather vague regarding specifics about how the technology works.
Update 11/17/23: Apple has announced that they will be adopting RCS support starting in 2024.
Nothing Chats Availability
Nothing Chats will be available for download on the Google Play store from November 17th for Nothing Phone 2 users in the US, Canada, UK, EU, and other European countries, including Norway and Switzerland.