Having predominantly used Android phones, I am far too familiar with the stigma of being a “green bubble.” Whenever I message someone with an iPhone, my texts show up in iMessage, the default messaging platform in iOS, but the app switches my messages from the secure but Apple-only iMessage protocol to the dated SMS/MMS protocol. On iPhones, this changes the color of the bubbles on my side of the conversation from blue to green, which gives my friends something to tease me about. It also means a lot of modern-day messaging features stop working: Our conversation is not encrypted, I miss some messages in group chats, photos and videos can only be shared at low quality, and I can’t see read receipts.
In the past year, there’s been a renewed conversation encouraging Apple to adopt the rich communication services (RCS) protocol, which would upgrade the texting experience between Android and iOS users and bring a lot of those features back. It has also given rise to apps like Beeper, which turns your messages blue even if you use an Android phone.
Nothing, the smartphone brand, has waded into this stopgap app market with Nothing Chats. Currently in beta and only available for Nothing Phone (2) owners, it lets you message your iPhone contacts without turning the conversation into a bright green hue. I have been using a beta version for a few days and while there are a lot of bugs, it works.
The elephant in the room? Apple just announced iPhones will officially support the RCS standard next year. I don’t expect this will be an end to the green-blue bubbles saga, but it might just be better to wait for Apple’s adoption for the sake of your privacy.
After installing the app and setting up your Nothing Chats account, you’ll need to connect third-party services like iMessage with an Apple ID (you can create one without an Apple device). I had two-factor authentication turned on with my Apple ID, so I got a prompt on my MacBook about an Apple ID sign-in attempt, and I had to accept it and provide a verification code. You can also connect RCS via the Google Messages app so that all your texts are routed into Nothing Chat. I don’t recommend this as I had issues with missing notifications for texts, and I started getting notifications for texts that were sent months if not years ago.
I had trouble finding the people I wanted to speak with on Nothing Chats. Some people showed up when I searched their names, others just didn’t exist. So I manually found their number in my Google Contacts list, sent the number a message via the app, and then added them as an existing contact. I kept receiving “failed to send” messages, but I found that if I waited a few minutes, things would work out. Nothing Chats automatically sends a vCard first so that the receiver can merge your new chat persona with your existing contact information.
There are some weird rules you have to follow. The phone number of the iPhone owner you’re messaging has to be connected to an Apple ID on their iPhone, or you can choose their email address, which also needs to be set as the receiving address for iMessage. You can only create group chats with folks on iMessage. (I made a group chat with two iPhone owners and another Android phone owner, and it sent my message, but I never heard back from anyone despite them claiming to have responded. Maybe they hate me.)