editorial notebook

Being green in a blue world

I’ve only owned Android phones; and, ever since I got my first phone, my texts have appeared green on iPhones. I’ve always been a “green bubble person.”

My first phone was an android because my parents didn’t want to spend money on an iPhone—not for a kid. I always thought that I would eventually earn my parents’ trust to buy an iPhone, but deep down I fell in love with the Android experience. As I bought new phones, I got comments asking why I didn’t just get an iPhone, and I always deflected them by saying that my parents weren’t willing to spend the money.

The separation between me and everyone with iPhone got worse with the release of iMessage games. Everyone in my classes was procrastinating and having fun playing Battleship and chess, while I was left out. It felt like I wasn’t invited to the “cool party” even though everyone around me was talking about it. I also knew of iMessage only group chats that I wasn’t a part of because I would be responsible for ruining any iMessage specific features if I joined.

When my phone’s screen died last November, my parents were willing to buy me an iPhone. Instead, I bought a Google Pixel 2. The phone was $700, so I didn’t have the excuse that it was cheaper than an iPhone anymore. What made the Pixel 2 special was its stellar camera. The portrait mode on the Pixel 2 was much better than any other phone—including the iPhone—to the point where it nullified every question except one: “Why are you still a green bubble?”

During the initial rush of making new college friends, I rarely shared my number. Instead I tried to use any other form of communication. I was afraid that I would be judged. Even now, only around half of my college friends have my phone number.

Apple created a simple way to easily identify non-iPhone users and create a divide between iPhones and any other device. Having a blue text message is viewed as a status symbol, one saying, “I have enough money to buy an expensive phone.” They also locked special features that make it “easier” to talk to people behind proprietary software so that if you aren’t within their ecosystem it’s an inconvenience to talk to people.

Luckily for “green bubbles,” RPI’s campus feels a lot less iPhone-centric than most other colleges. I see a greater mix of iPhones and Androids here compared to my high school where only three people had Android phones. There is also the development of Rich Communication Services which aims to bring a lot of the features from iMessage such as read receipts and texting over Wi-Fi to every phone.

I wouldn’t want Apple to change every text to be the same color because the difference does exist. I just wish that people didn’t perceive green texts lesser than blue ones, when iPhones aren’t the only option.