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Here's the real reason iMessage isn't available on Android

iMessage open on an iPhone X
iMessage open on an iPhone X (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Depositions and emails from Apple executives have revealed the reason why the company hasn't brought iMessage to Android.
  • Apple executives decided not to port iMessage to Android as it would make it easier for users to switch to Google's mobile operating system.
  • Apple could have released an iMessage version on Android that worked with iOS as early as 2013.

A court filing by Fortnite maker Epic Games has revealed that Apple decided against porting iMessage to Android as it "recognized the power that iMessage has to attract and keep users within its ecosystem."

The filing includes depositions and emails by several top Apple executives and employees, including Eddy Cue, the Senior VP of Internet Software and Services at the company. As per a deposition by Cue, Apple "could have made a version on Android that worked with iOS." However, Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software Engineering, responded saying, "iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones."

In an email sent in 2016, an unnamed Apple employee commented that "the number one most difficult reason to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage … iMessage amounts to serious lock-in." Apple Fellow Phil Schiller supported the argument by saying, "moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why."

While there are a few workarounds available to get iMessage working on Android, none of them are as convenient as you'd expect. The closest thing to iMessage for Android is a universal chat app called Beeper, which was announced earlier this year. However, Beeper is a subscription service that costs $10 a month. In addition to iMessage, Beeper also gives you access to all the best Android messaging apps currently available.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
26 Comments
  • Of course that is the reason why Apple wouldn't make iMessage available to Android. Smart move for them. That's why BlackBerry didn't make BBM available on Android and iOS as it initially kept users from switching. But, Apple is NOT BlackBerry.
  • Exactly my take on this as well.
  • Is it though? They could upsell Apple subscription services more easily to Android users. Missing a trick.
  • Everyone already knew this, it's just confirmation of common knowledge.
  • I always suspected this given Apple's history of vendor lock-in but didn't have anything to back it up. Thanks for the proof Apple.
  • I wouldn't want iMessage on my phone even if it were available. I learned my lesson a long time ago when I ignorantly installed iTunes on my Windows computer and it took over the entire operating system. I had to completely reformat the whole computer to get rid of that crap. Never again will I have anything to do with anything from Apple.
  • Man, that was back in the Windows Millennium days. ITunes is fine now. Runs like any other application.
  • I'm shocked at this revelation. Apple did something to keep people locked into its service? What's ironic to me is that Apple is the company that came out with that 1984 commercial showing them breaking away from big brother and getting people to think differently. While they certainly allow for creativity in many ways, they are now the company which wants everybody walking in lock step doing things its way.
  • As my daughter, in her philosophical teenage years would have said, "No duh".
  • 😂
    Yep, I think we all already knew this
  • Apple can keep their crappy message service. It's not like there's a shortage of messaging service out there...
  • None work as well as imessage. People will absolutely stay on iOS in a market like the US if it means giving that up. The UX is beyond what any other service can match, and its completely built i to all of their operating platforms.
  • Jokes on them now that Google has flawless RCS integration... 🙄
  • Beyond the, yea, so? The whole lock-in thing is BS. Nothing keeps you in Apple's ecosystem but personal preference. It's not like I, from my iPhone, can't message my kids. I can do it from iMessage. They get it on SMS. They can text me via SMS, and I get it in the iMessage app. It's integrated. Some fancy stuff doesn't work across iMessage/SMS, but I don't need stickers and floating balloons to say 'get your a**es home'. If you want fancy cross platform messaging, there are no shortage of options. iMessage isn't even the most popular once you leave the US.
    If we have a bunch of Apple stuff, iPhones, Macs, iPads, none of it quits working if I buy a Galaxy phone, or a Windows PC. I am not required by law to switch all my phones, and buy Android tablets. The lock in myth is perpetuated by software/hardware manufacturers who haven't figured out how to make a product that people are loyal to. It's not a walled garden, it's a gated community.
  • You aren't getting imessage on a galaxy, and multimedia messaging over sms is lol terrible. You people sound like you don't even use your devices. Normal people notice these things, and it influences their decisions. When you already gave a Mac and iPad, getting an android phone is literally an inconvenience. Apple knows this. Everyone knows this. This is why it is this way, and this is why every company is trying to build its services out. Even Samsung tried this, and failed, and its why Google Play is such a leverage for Google over OEMs.
  • If you already have a Mac and an iPad, yea, an iPhone is the logical choice. Not because of iMessage though. Because of the whole ecosystem integration. As was noted elsewhere there is no shortage of multimedia messaging options that are cross platform. There's a new favorite every week. As you noted, others do exactly the same thing, though haven't had quite the success.
  • It's really not needed. Move on already. Have faith in Android as a solid platform in it's own right. If your friends judge you over owning an Android, get new friends! What sort of person does that anyway? Totally not the sort of people I want to be associating with.
  • Not surprised that is their view, but as a non-iOS user I still don't quite see what's so great about it compared to the likes of WhatsApp? All the buttons along the bottom of the screen look incredibly messy and I'm not sure what functionality advantage it has?
  • iMessage is built into all of Apple's operating platforms. iOS, iPadOS, macOS. It works seamlessly across them. It's also bolstered by services like Apple Pay Cash, and tie-ins with FaceTime. It's in the stock messaging app. There is zero friction. You don't have to convince friends to download an app, and they won't get spammed by people who had their number before them and are showing up on others' WhatsApp contact lists. It's not owned by Facebook. It's secure/private by default, and Apple devices have minimal data collection with the few options that exist being opt-in by default. It's not about functionality only. It's also about convenience, trustworthiness, and user experience. How well does WhatsApp work across different devices and form factors, for example? AFAIK, it's pretty junky compared to iMessage.
  • I dunno, I can see the argument re frictionless experience, but pretty much everyone I know here in the UK seems to have WhatsApp installed anyway so I don't need to convince them. WhatsApp web works really well too so I just have that running as a tab on any desktop device I'm on, whatever the OS.
  • Isn't this just a moot point though? At some point, Apple will have to update iMessage to support RCS (replacement for SMS/MMS), which shares nearly all of the same features as iMessage. It would be nice if Apple implemented support for RCS messages Universal Protocol 1.0 or 2.0 in the next iOS update, but I figured the wireless carriers were the reason for the delay as well as every RCS messaging app to implement E2E encryption.
  • I doubt RCS will ever be a replacement for SMS, it may run alongside SMS, but to replace it I can not see it happening, well not for years and by that time something new will be along.
    I don't use RCS, I changed phones to an Oppo from my old Huawei p10 lite sadly and it has the google messages app installed, while the Huawei had it's own, which I think was better, and I would have loved to transfer it onto the Oppo, anyway, messages on the Oppo is in normal SMS mode and it has not even popped up anything about RCS. So if that happens to other phones, very few people are going to be using RCS.
    I did have a muck around with RCS on my old phone, but there was only a couple of people using it, so I disabled it again. I don't want it anyway. Imessage have done fine because it is the default and always have been.
  • Considering this is the number 1 reason most people stick with iphones.. all about that blue bubble 😒
  • Really? You think that? It's not about the consistent high quality hardware and software, the excellent trade-in value, dependable OS updates/upgrades? Seamless integration with an actual complete ecosystem.
  • This is not news...
  • What's so special about iMessage. Isn't it just a text app like every other phone has?