iOS 17 will stop Android friends from ruining your group texts with their green bubbles

We’ve all been there. Whether you’re an iPhone user with iMessage or an Android user with RCS, group chatting gets disrupted by that person who doesn’t have the same type of phone as the rest. This means that the messaging protocol dates back to SMS/MMS, which are decades old and cannot handle what we call even a small file today. But with the announcement of iOS 17 yesterday and the subsequent release of the first developer beta, it appears Apple has a solution that wasn’t talked about at the WWC keynote.

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The good news is that if you’re on an iPhone, an Android user can’t separate group texting for you anymore. The bad news is that, at least with the behavior in beta 1, it will still be broken for an Android user.

There are several features we found, previously exclusive to iMessage conversations:

  • You can edit texts
  • You can reply in topics
  • iMessage-quality video

Edit scripts and strings

Like I said, these features are, at this time, exclusive to iPhone users in group text. You’ll be able to send and edit that green text, but any Android user in the chat will still only see the original text. This is supposed to be rectified at some point by sending a second text to the Android user saying the text has been edited. But as it stands now, all iPhone users in the chat will see the change, Android users won’t.

Threads are a bit gentler for Android users in chat, as they will at least show all of these messages. They will not appear in the order you want them to.

High quality photos and videos

Perhaps the biggest problem with MMS is that it has a small file size limit. It was not intended for sending recent photos taken with smartphone cameras, and these photos are compressed. When you look at that photo on such a small screen, it’s barely noticeable, but if someone sends you a beautiful photo of someone you love that you want to print on something bigger, it’s awful. Now, when you start talking about the video, it’s even worse. If you take a one-minute 4K 60fps video with your iPhone and send it via MMS, the person on the other end can hardly tell you what’s going on in it. The higher the quality and the longer the length, the more compressed it is.

When photos are sent in iOS 17, they reach the other end, to iPhone users in the group chat, in full quality. The image you submitted was 4032 x 3024 and came in at 2.02MB. The same photo moved to the other iPhone user in the chat. The Android phone got an image of 2048×1536 and 725KB.

When sending video, this was where the change was truly marked. I recorded a 4K video at 60fps that is about 21 seconds long and 157MB in size. The iPhone received 720p video at 30 frames per second that was 17.9MB, the same quality that would be compressed if you sent via iMessage. This is the really wild part. The video received by the Android phone has been compressed to 293KB. It had a resolution of 176 x 144 at a frame rate of 10fps.

All of these changes are a pretty big deal, and they solve some major pain points for iPhone users. Of course, this isn’t the solution people really want, and it’s a common and modern protocol among all devices, so the user doesn’t actually have to think about who they’re sending a text message to. But hey, this is only beta 1. Maybe Apple will get there by September when this actually launches. After all, if Apple wants to keep its users on iMessage while using RCS for the rest, this is probably the place to start.

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