While iOS software continues to expand and grow more complex with each passing year, one part of it that has endured is Apple’s iMessage, the system that automatically uses a data signal to talk with other users in the Apple ecosystem, instead of the standard SMS message. In fact, the app’s Sneetch-style “blue bubbles vs. green bubbles” system has likely caused more than a few users to stick with their iPhones (or switch to them).
But as Apple begins to expand its offering of services, rumors are circulating with growing frequency about whether Android users will eventually get access to the system. As Apple fanboy-in-chief John Gruber wrote yesterday, Apple is considering different implementations:
I’ve heard from little birdies that mockups of iMessage for Android have circulated within the company, with varying UI styles ranging from looking like the iOS Messages app to pure Material Design [Google’s design scheme for Android]. iMessage for Android may never see the light of day, but the existence of detailed mockups strongly suggests that there’s no “of course not” to it.
Apple’s slow creep toward platform-agnostic services isn’t entirely out of the question. Its largest service, Apple Music, launched with an Android app. As iPhone sales slow, broadening the accessibility of iMessage has the chance to keep people in Apple’s pocket even if they switch devices.
It’s not out of the question for Apple to use other platforms in order to acquire new users; the iPod coming to Windows was a huge step. The key is opening up at the right moment. A long, long, long time ago — practically eons — BlackBerry had a much-coveted messaging service known as BBM (you had to exchange PINs). The company didn’t make it available on other smartphones until it was too late.