As humans we’re imbued with an instinct for tribalism that can manifest itself in some strange ways — but this has to take the cake.
I’m talking about iPhone users who hate on Android. Those who have ever been shamed for their green text bubble will understand this all too well.
The big divide in the smartphone world is between Apple’s iPhone and phones that run on Google’s Android software. And on one side, that has given rise to a type of texting caste system.
The iPhone’s default messaging app iMessage runs over the internet and recognises users by identifiers like their iCloud account and email address to relay the text. The message gets a dark blue background, comes with a read receipt, doesn’t have a character limit and (because it happens online) it doesn’t incur any charge.
But if an iPhone user is texting a non iPhone user, iMessage relies on the standard SMS protocol and the message turns up in an arguably less appealing bright green bubble.
Who cares right? It turns out, a lot of people.
In the latest episode of tech podcast Why’d you push that button, Ashley Carman took a deep dive into the judgmental world of texting.
She started with a story and it went like this:
She was looking for love on the dating apps and was hitting it off with this guy. They exchanged numbers but then he kept texting her via the dating app. When they met up at a bar, one of the first things he said was to apologise for persisting in the dating app and explained, or rather confessed, that he was an Android user.
“I have an Android phone and that’s why I didn’t message you,” he apparently told her. As it turns out, he’d been burned before.
“I’ve previously messaged woman … before I’ve told them I have an Android phone and then they ghost me or tell me ‘see you later’ because they don’t want to text someone with a green bubble,” he told her.
Is that ridiculous? Absolutely. But for Android users in a world of iPhone lovers, the curse of the green text bubble is apparently real.
He’s not alone. Tech writer Michael Nuñez wrote about how he felt compelled to buy an iPhone because he was “ashamed” of his green bubble after a love interest took umbrage with his non Apple device.
Jokes or not, this texting apartheid has become somewhat of a meme among iPhone users.
can’t believe I kissed a boy w green texts I am so nice that was my act of charity for the year
— abbey (@Iouisavontrapp) May 14, 2019
If I give you my number and a green bubble pops up when you text me, I’m (at minimum) already questioning your taste level. 🥴
— Sandra Jimenez (@sjimenez333) May 16, 2019
Today my friend told me he purposely didn’t add me to a 15+ plus group chat because I would’ve been the only green text bubble….that hurt #Discrimination
— Luis Sanchez (@luis_rayados01) May 14, 2019
This seems to be a big thing among people in the US where iPhones are particularly popular and iMessage is widely used as a default texting app. In other parts of the world, apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are more popular for group messaging and people live in blissful harmony.
As noted above, the technology of the SMS protocol is pretty clunky compared to internet based messaging apps and offers a worse user experience — a reason some Android haters cite for not wanting to text with green bubble people for fear of miscommunication.
It also means Android users can’t be included in group messages inside the iPhone app, sometimes leading to disjointed conversations.
For this reason it makes sense for Apple to differentiate the type of texts to users can be aware. But nonetheless conspiracy theories abound about the colours used by Apple — the warm and inviting blue versus the artificial green — as if they’re designed to provoke some emotional reaction to make users think less of non iPhone owners.
Maybe they’re right and someone at Apple is an evil genius subtlely driving a wedge between society to boost iPhone sales.
If you’ve ever been judged for your Android and you want to understand your tormentor, it’s worth listening to the podcast episode because the range of emotions people admit to feeling about the dreaded green bubble is rather astonishing.
Or alternatively if you’re looking for an excuse to ghost someone, maybe blame it on the green bubble.