iPhone promotes social isolation and creates ‘green bubbles’


Compared to iPhone users, android phone owners are at a disadvantage when it comes to participation in group chats and using other in-phone features.

“You can’t be in the group chat. You don’t have an iPhone.” 

This sort of statement is an unfortunate reality for many Android and other non-iPhone users. 

Apple’s group chat system is well-known for its many unique features, from message reactions to the ability to respond directly to an individual text. However, as soon as a Samsung phone is added to a group chat, all of these features go away. Even worse: the text messages turn green. Compared to the beloved blue of iMessages, the sharp neon green is harsh to the eye. Because of the loss of features and the green text bubbles, non-iPhone users are easily identified and, as a result, face social stigma and isolation. 

In order to be included in group chats and avoid peer pressure and isolation, people without iPhones are being forced to switch to Apple products, which are often more expensive. Apple is only isolating themselves by making it more difficult to communicate universally across devices without feeling out of place or different.

“Yes, I definitely have faced peer pressure for not having an iPhone. When schools prepare you for peer pressure they always talk about drugs but never about the phone issue,” Miramonte senior Mallika Dandamudi said. “I haven’t been excluded from group chats, but I am usually added last. To those iPhone users out there, Androids are cheaper, work better and last longer.”

The green messages, also known as Short Message Service (SMS), appear whenever an Apple product texts a non-Apple product. 

In a USA Today article, Google’s senior vice president Hiroshi Lockheimer said: “The distinction between green and blue message bubbles leads to peer pressure and bullying.” On his Twitter, he claimed that this distinction is a result of “a documented strategy” by Apple to encourage people to buy their products to use iMessage. iPhone users, particularly teenagers, are infamous for encouraging their peers to use Apple phones to avoid the green bubble stigma. The divide between companies leads to further polarization between users of the devices each company produces. By working together, the companies can eliminate some of the social division between “iPhone” and “non-iPhone” users.

Aside from the colors, people without iPhones lose out on many other benefits of iMessage. SMS messages don’t show the “delivered” or “read” features, which can make it hard to know if a message has been sent or seen. Once an Android user is added into a group chat, nobody can be removed from the thread, making people less inclined to add non-iPhone users. Images and videos typically send in lower quality, since SMS messages are sent over cellular connections while iMessages are sent over internet connections. Beyond these clear-cut features, non-iPhone users can’t use their phones’ bonus features, such as Memojis (3-D representations of themselves as emojis) or GamePigeon games, an exclusively available iPhone app for playing various games through text messages.

“I think it’s unfortunate that kids whose texts are green are kind of isolated from Apple users,” senior Sophie Weber said. “I haven’t personally seen or heard anyone bullying someone for having green texts, except when people get frustrated that they can’t leave group chats if there is a non-Apple user in the chat. As for the color, I cannot lie: sometimes the white text on the bright green inspires sadness in my heart.”

However, this does not merit forcing an entire group of people to switch products just to fit in with the crowd. Instead of competing with each other to create better products, Apple and Android companies should work together and create a platform that allows for universal texting with all the additional features for everyone, regardless of the product they own.

Recently, Google has been working on a new type of messaging class system, known as Rich Communication Service, which will mimic iMessage formats more closely. However, many argue that it would make more sense for Google and Apple to work together to bridge the gap between the green and blue text bubbles. Texting is meant to be a universal way for people to communicate through technology, but the divide between messaging formats leads to more isolation rather than communication.