Why Apple never released Messages for Android

Court documents filed in the Epic Games v. Apple case show that Apple considered a version of Messages for Android, but chose not to release the app.

Messages enables users to reply directly to a message and keep track of all subsequent replies.
Apple’s Messages app

Adam Smith for Yahoo Finance:

The Cupertino smartphone giant had made a decision as early as 2013 to not develop its messaging platform for competing phones.

There would “have been cross-compatibility with the iOS platform so that users of both platforms would have been able to exchange messages with one another seamlessly”, said Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software and Services.

However, this idea was shot down by Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering and the executive in charge of iOS, saying that “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.”

Mr Federighi also said it would be a “horrible idea” to “make it easier for someone to switch away from our platforms.”

“In 2016, when a former Apple employee commented that ‘the #1 most difficult [reason] to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage . . . iMessage amounts to serious lock-in’ to the Apple ecosystem”, the court documents state, Phil Schiller, former Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, said: “moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why.”

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in August 2019:

Messages for Android was, as one point strongly considered and a little birdie tells us that it still exists, updated, in the vault is case Apple ever decides it makes sense economically and/or strategically to release it.

For the time being, those who settle for Google insecure, privacy-trampling, fragmented, toxic hellstew will remain in their green bubble ghetto sporadically soiling our pristine, blue, full-featured Messages.

Keeping Messages within the Apple device ecosystem is clearly working: Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. teens own an Apple iPhone – April 7, 2021


  1. I was just considering today how adding one particular friend to one of my text groups of 11 people would make it all green.

    Now that’s where it’s frustrating: The phones my associates choose (not what I choose) limit the robustness of Messages communication.

        1. The whole point of a group is that everybody gets the same information when somebody sends a message. In a mixed group, the Android member or members may not be able to receive everything that an iPhone member sends to the other iPhone users using Apple exclusive features. Rather than just silently leaving the Android user out in the cold, the group defaults to “green,” so that everyone will get the same message with the same information.

          1. I’m asking why the features can’t be active as normal for the iPhone users while android receives their version specific to their capabilities. Thereby not making the message green for the iPhone users, so iPhone users in the group may have some info that there is an android user but it doesn’t affect how iPhones appear or interact in the group.

            So we don’t have some green conversations (that we can’t name, can’t add people to, etc)

            What’s the limiting factor here? Is it SMS tech? We can’t get past this to normalize all our conversations OR is this an Apple way of turning up their noses as android users?

            Hopefully not the latter, but given this article it sounds like this could have been the latter.

    1. When you bump into a friend who uses an Android phone, have them pull up whatever messaging app they use. Then use it to send yourself some texts, memoji’s or whatever else, like sending Apple Cash or any other number of things. That’ll answer all your questions you didn’t know you had.

      1. Thanks Bobby. I’ve used a lot of messaging systems and you are right that there are certainly some Messages-specific enhancements, but none that, to me, really seem compelling. We don’t really use Memoji and very, very rarely use Apple Cash. Occasionally one of the other texting apps I use won’t process something quite right, such as a contact card, but it’s rare. The share via Messages default action is useful to me. I don’t think Messages is bad, I just don’t see it as important for customer acquisition or retention as the article implies.

  2. I don’t agree that it would have been wrong to make iMessage available for Android. For cross-platform messaging everybody I know uses WhatsApp and now Signal. Apple‘s mistake was not to buy WhatsApp. More important to keep families locked in is Shared Albums in Photos.

  3. Me2:
    Just try sending a video or multiple videos via Messaging to non-Apple phones. Anything longer than 5-seconds rarely makes it. Still, I like the way Apple did it. One doesn’t spend a fortune in research and perfecting encoded high tech products and then just give them away to the users of the product of the very same companies that stole the tech outright. Remember, Steve used the terms “thermonuclear” and stolen product.

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