The iPhone finally wore me down. Here’s why I ditched Android

It’s 6:30 a.m., a wonderful, uncommon morning when neither my canine nor my youngsters have pulled me off the bed but. However my alarm goes off anyway. I’m participating in a blurry-eyed ritual I’d promised myself to by no means cope with once more: I’m ordering a brand new iPhone.

For the previous 4 years, I’ve been utilizing Android telephones solely. I’d written so many tales on Google “getting” design that it appeared prefer it was time to attempt utilizing its Pixel line. I’m glad I did. They’re very good telephones: well-priced and thoughtfully made.

However I went again to the iPhone anyway.

I don’t consider the iPhone is a better-designed product than a contemporary Pixel. I was not lured again to Apple by aesthetics or the brand new options I’d missed over the previous few years (like memoji or MagSafe). Frankly, I needed nothing to do with iCloud, both, which had pestered me so aggressively to improve storage that it felt like my iPhone was a telemarketer on Apple’s behalf.

However I capitulated to Apple for one easy purpose: iMessages. Whereas Android controls as a lot as 85% of the smartphone trade globally, and Fb-owned WhatsApp, with its 2 billion customers, is the most well-liked messaging service globally, Apple nonetheless guidelines the U.S.

In actual fact, Apple controls 53% of the U.S. smartphone market. And whereas it doesn’t publish information on iMessage use, what I’ve noticed by way of my very own social circle utilizing iMessages, Apple’s market penetration feels extra like 90%. Virtually everybody I know makes use of it.

Whereas iMessages is technically suitable  with probably the most fundamental textual content messaging programs normal on all telephones, the platform solely actually works with different iMessage customers, particularly in the event you’re attempting to ship video or photographs. As a result of Apple—with its fingers in its ears about its personal monopolistic conduct—doesn’t make iMessages for Android. As got here to gentle throughout Apple’s trial this 12 months with Epic Video games, multiple Apple executives have admitted that opening iMessages as much as Android may encourage customers to depart the iPhone. Apple’s choice to restrict interoperability with Android is purposeful, strategic, and, in my case, extremely efficient at getting me to return to its platform.

The iMessage flex

I nonetheless bear in mind texting family and friends in the course of the first few weeks with a Pixel 2. “GREEN BUBBLE?!?” was their first response. As a result of, after all, Apple’s UI marks iMessage customers as blue, and another SMS as inexperienced. Apple’s rigorously crafted UI labels you as totally different—and given the value premium of Apple units, that “totally different” continues to be thought-about “decrease class” by just about each inexperienced bubble meme in existence.

[Illustration: Daniel Salo/Fast Company]

Android’s scarlet letter glows in electrical inexperienced.

That roasting was nice, and momentary. However what got here subsequent was, I’d argue, legitimately damaging to my relationships. My inexperienced bubble wasn’t only a sign of me being on Android. It was extra a sign of “this message would possibly undergo, and it may not. As a result of we don’t actually care if it’s delivered.”

I started to reside in worry of iMessage group chats. Inevitably, I would lose messages in makes an attempt to carry my tin can with a string as much as Apple’s know-how. I simply couldn’t see texts that different folks may see. It takes solely a few SMSs not going via for group banter to devolve into nonsense. (No joke: An excellent pal informed me that after a promising first date, his date texted him to speak. He adopted up, however she ghosted. Solely months later did he study that her Apple messages hadn’t made it to his Android telephone, and had been lurking on his dormant iMessages account.)

Residing with out iMessages solely will get worse when wealthy media is concerned. Our previous text-message applied sciences aren’t enough for sending high-resolution photographs and video. It’s why apps like iMessages—which juggle previous textual content messaging with data-heavy MMS utilizing all kinds of additional servers—completely do must exist. However Apple doesn’t help Android’s open MMS normal (which is technically known as RCS). In a group-chat context, photographs and movies despatched from iPhones usually wouldn’t come via to me in any respect. In a single-on-one chats, compressed photographs had been a bit fuzzy. And movies? Movies seemed like one thing you’d shoot on a 2004 flip telephone. Zero exaggeration.

As my kids grew up, I’d obtain movies from events and playdates. Being able to seize and share these magical on a regular basis moments is the very best a part of having a smartphone. However with out iMessages, they had been nonsensical—the compression was so dangerous they weren’t even price watching. Every time I tried, the loss merely made me unhappy.

The actual catch about this iMessage divide is that it’s not the form of pesky design downside you would possibly acclimate to over time. It was an ongoing ache that actually felt like Apple was holding my relationships with my family and friends, together with my very own recollections, technologically hostage. I’d wish to suppose I may combat that energy by voting with my {dollars}, by being that inexperienced bubble, by inspiring others to attempt alternate texting platforms or smartphone OSs. However after 4 years of moments misplaced, I was executed. Life is simply too quick to be a pawn on the company battlefield.

So how’s life with the iPhone 13? (My final iPhone was the 7.)

Being again on iMessages has been life altering, largely as a result of I’m in a position to talk with a very powerful folks in my life with extra constancy than I did on an Android. In any other case? It’s nice. The digicam doesn’t really feel any higher than the Pixel’s. Apple’s prudish app coverage means there’s no Pax app for (legally!) utilizing hashish. By way of general consumer expertise, I may quibble about varied micro items of UX—there are bits I favor concerning the iPhone, and bits I favor concerning the Pixel. Nevertheless, there’s nothing I haven’t adjusted to in just a few weeks.

The fact is, each Apple and Google make nice smartphones lately. However just one has iMessages.