Predominantly used Android phones, I’m all too familiar with the stigma of being a ‘green bubble’. Whenever I message someone with an iPhone, my text messages appear in iMessage, the default messaging platform in iOS, but the app switches my messages from the secure but Apple-only iMessage protocol to the outdated SMS/MMS protocol. On iPhones, this changes the color of the bubbles on my end of the call from blue to green, allowing my friends to tease me. It also means that many modern messaging features no longer work: our conversation isn’t encrypted, I’m missing some messages in group chats, photos and videos can only be shared at low quality, and I can’t see read receipts.
Over the past year, there has been renewed conversation encouraging Apple to adopt the Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol, which would improve the texting experience between Android and iOS users and bring back many of these features. It’s also given rise to apps like Beeper, which turn your messages blue even if you’re using an Android phone.
Nothing, the smartphone brand, has entered this emergency app market with Nothing Chats. Currently in beta and only available to Nothing Phone (2) owners, you can message your iPhone contacts without the conversation turning a bright green hue. I have been using a beta version for a few days and as long as it is there lots of bugsIt works.
The elephant in the room? Apple just announced that iPhones will officially support the RCS standard next year. I don’t expect this to be the end of the green-blue bubble saga, but it might be better to wait for Apple’s adoption for the sake of your privacy.
After you install the app and set up your Nothing Chats account, you’ll need to connect third-party services like iMessage to an Apple ID (you can create one without an Apple device). I had enabled two-factor authentication with my Apple ID, so I got a notification on my MacBook about an Apple ID login attempt, and I had to accept it and provide a verification code. You can also connect RCS through the Google Messages app so that all your text messages are routed to Nothing Chat. I don’t recommend this because I was having issues with missing text message notifications, and I started getting notifications for text messages sent months, if not years ago.
I was having trouble finding the people I wanted to talk to on Nothing Chats. Some people showed up when I searched for their names, others simply didn’t exist. So I manually found their number in my Google Contacts list, messaged the number through the app, and then added them as an existing contact. I kept receiving messages that I couldn’t send, but I noticed that if I waited a few minutes, everything would work out. Nothing Chats automatically sends a vCard first so the recipient can merge your new chat person with your existing contact information.
There are some strange rules you have to follow. The phone number of the iPhone owner you are sending a message to must be associated with an Apple ID on their iPhone, or you can choose their email address, which must also be set as the receiving address for iMessage. You can only create group chats with people on iMessage. (I did a group chat with two iPhone owners and another Android phone owner, and my message was sent, but I never heard back from anyone, even though they claimed to have responded. Maybe they hate me.)