The age-old separation of blue and green bubbles may be coming to an end, and it starts with London-based phone maker, Nothing.
Depending on what part of the world you live in, the idea of blue bubbles versus green bubbles evokes either a feeling of confusion or frustration. If you’re in the US, where the iPhone dominates the sales charts and iMessage arguably reigns supreme among texting services especially among teenagers, then you may be well acquainted with the drama that comes with Apple’s exclusive messaging platform.
In short: Android users who text iPhone users appear as green bubbles instead of blue bubbles, and the lack of feature parity, including no typing indicators, Tap-Back support (reacting to messages with a tap-and-hold), and group chat limitations, means that the experience of using iMessage with an Android user has always been an inferior one.
There have been several attempts to bridge the gap, as Google’s marketing and legal efforts can attest to, but nothing has come as close as, well, Nothing. The London-based electronics maker, responsible for glowing Android phones and earbuds that pay homage to retro tech, has partnered with Sunbird to develop Nothing Chats, a new messaging service that supports iMessage chats.
Using the service is like texting to an iPhone user on an iPhone. You can send messages, chat in groups, send full-res images, see when others are typing, and even drop voice notes. All of this is presented as blue bubbles on the actual iPhone users’ side, even though you’re texting from an Android.
The method to this madness comes in the form of an Apple ID and a whole lot of Mac Minis. According to Nothing, Sunbird uses a patented process that links your Apple ID, which can be created for free even if you don’t own an Apple device, to one of the company’s Europe or North America-based Mac Mini “servers”.
So when you send a text through the Nothing Chats app, you’re technically messaging the server that’s linked to your Apple ID first, which then forwards it to your iMessage contact. Regarding security and privacy concerns, Nothing told Android Authority the following:
Regarding security, Sunbird doesn’t store any message data/metadata or usernames/passwords, besides the email used to create the Sunbird login. Sunbird’s proprietary technology allows for the passthrough and deletion of data. Whether you choose to sign in with an existing Apple ID or create a new one, your Apple ID data is immediately destroyed during the tokenization process upon logging in so at no point is it vulnerable to bad actors. Sunbird’s server data streams are fully encrypted, and even if there were to be any intrusion on the datastream, Apple ID data would not be able to be accessed as they’re not stored anywhere at any point and are automatically deleted as part of the tokenization process.
This is all the base level of Nothing Chats, as the company says more familiar features like read receipts and message reactions and replies are coming in the future. And, for now, you’ll have to have a Nothing Phone 2 I know, there are levels to this war of exclusivity in order to use Nothing Chats.
Nothing Chats will be available to download from the Play Store on November 17 in the US, UK, and EU. That makes sense because this is very much a localized problem, in places where more international services like WhatsApp, WeChat, and KakaoTalk are less of the norm. No matter the case, the ability to break through one of the more obnoxious social barriers in society is a start, and we may soon see other manufacturers join in on the action.