Nothing Phone to bring Apple's blue chat bubbles to Android in select countries

In a bid to end discrimination in text messages, young consumer tech brand Nothing announced its own messaging service called “Nothing Chats” that features the ubiquitous blue bubble like Apple’s iMessage.

“Nothing is the first company to offer a solution to one of the biggest frustrations between Android and iOS users,” the company writes on its website. The service, powered by Sunbird (a third party, chat-bubble agnostic messaging app for Android) allows users to directly message other phone users from the Nothing Phone using blue bubbles.

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The app is only available for the Nothing Phone (2) users in the US, Canada, UK and EU at this time.

The service works by connecting users’ iCloud account to the app, which is run through a virtual Mac Mini. Experts, however, feel the move may weaken data security.

Why are blue bubbles so important?

Questioning the colour of the chat bubble stems from the fact that Android users, especially young adults, feel routinely isolated among a group of iOS users as Android messages are delivered in a ‘green bubble’ (indicating it’s an Android phone), while iMessage contents are delivered in a ‘blue bubble’.

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While Android users often rely on third-party apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal, iOS users tend to rely on Apple’s iMessage, which is like text messages but enhanced with multimedia support.It’s not that Android users don’t have a similar service. In 2019, Google’s messaging app adopted the RCS (Rich Communication System) standard, offering nearly all the things that iMessage can do.

However, even as the feature gap was closed down, Apple has so far refused to allow RCS-support for iMessage.

“Let’s end the green bubble stigma,” Nothing cofounder Carl Pei said on X, asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to adopt RCS for security and interoperability.

“We believe in windows, not walls. If messaging services are dividing phone users, then we want to break those barriers down,” Nothing said on the website.

The move led to a social media storm of sorts, with users calling for the end to the discriminating difference.

“Messaging apps that are locked to specific devices are cringe. Mr. Cook, tear down this wall!,” noted Android expert Mishaal Rahman wrote. “In all seriousness, it’s interesting to see solutions like Nothing Chat gain more traction, because I wonder just how Apple will respond.”

Not everyone is convinced though. Arstechnica journalist Ron Amadeo called the move a publicity stunt. “Nothing Chat is a lame publicity stunt powered by an ultra-shady company that has already missed several deadlines to release “iMessage on Android” and refuses to answer any hard (and obvious) questions around Apple account security,” he wrote on X.

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