Although Apple and Google have improved texting apps’ functionality, the apps still lack an essential component: a way to limit your messages.
The text messaging app is the most used app on my phone. It’s easy to use, efficient, and faster than emailing or calling.
Even though Apple has released a number of new text-messaging capabilities in its software update this week, and Google has made improvements over the years to its Android messenger app, such as adding colorful emojis, texting leaves much to be desired.
Apple’s latest software, iOS16, was released Monday and includes improvements to the iMessage app. You can edit text messages after they have been sent. Google’s Messages app Android provides tools that automatically respond to messages.
These changes can help us avoid awkward situations and save our time. However, they don’t address the larger social problem of texting: It is distracting and demanding, and at times stressful.
Text messaging has its pros and cons. Texting is fast and easy to use and it’s widely considered to be the most attention-grabbing and urgent form of digital communication. It can be difficult to establish boundaries with colleagues and friends about texting. We can text others and invite them to do the same.
Justin Santamaria, an iPhone engineer who created the iMessage app over a decade ago, said, “Where does work end and your personal life start?” “That’s something that everybody has struggled with over the last three years, and it’s now playing out on your screen.”
Also, texting is not the most secure method of communication, especially in the post-Roe era, when privacy is more crucial than ever, stated Caitlin George (a managing director at Fight for the Future), a digital rights advocacy organization.
She said that everyone should have access to it and should not be concerned about it.
The new messaging features can be used in a simple way. iPhones with iOS 16 can be accessed by holding down on a message to open the option to edit or retract it. Android users can access Google’s Messages app and toggle on “Enable Chat Features” to enable the new texting technology called Rich Communication Services.
Here is my wishlist to improve texting.
We need a way message
Apple and Google have created layers of settings that allow us to let others know when we are not busy, in order to reduce the chance of being bombarded with texts. However, the tools are not effective.
Apple’s iOS also includes Focus, which was released last year to control how our phone notifications are displayed in different areas of our lives. This includes when we’re driving, going to bed, and at work. Focus can be used to allow text and phone notifications only from your colleagues. Anyone not on the approved list will get a message that notifications aren’t being received.
Focus is too complicated. It takes time to set up each Focus profile and to schedule Focus activations at specific times. Or to remember to turn the feature on/off. My experience is that even though my Focus settings tells me I don’t receive notifications, they still text me.
Future is a messaging app that allows people to communicate with fitness trainers. Mr. Santamaria was an iPhone engineer. Although he was able to understand the purpose of Apple’s Focus, he said that it was too complicated to set up.
He said, “I don’t want my East Coast friend to send me a funny meme because it’s not going to wake you up.”
Every notification for a new message in text adds to the to-do list of people to respond to. He said, “This red dot grow.”
Google’s messaging app features a Smart Reply tool that automatically generates responses to text messages. It even includes one that states you are busy. You will still need to select a response manually.
Apple’s and Googles’ text messaging apps could benefit from an easier tool: the away message.
America Online Instant Messenger was one of the first online messaging services. It had an autoresponder that contained a memo and allowed users to use it to let people know why they were not available. Slack, a chat app that facilitates workplace collaboration, allows users to show an “on vacation” status. This can be used to stop people from sending messages.
A scheduling tool is essential.
Text messaging has many great features, including the ability to instantly share an idea or a photograph. The iPhone messaging app does not have a way to stop people from pestering you at unreasonable hours. It only has the ability to set up a message to be sent later.
This is where Android’s messaging application has an obvious advantage. Google introduced a scheduling feature last year. After you have written a message, press the send button. The “Schedule Send” button will appear. This allows you to set a date and time for the message to be sent. This is useful as we send text messages at unsuitable hours in fear of not receiving them later.
Apple and Google must work together
The lack of interoperability among the iPhone and Android messaging platforms makes photos and videos look blurred when sent between Androids. This is known as the “green balloon” effect.
This issue was raised by an audience member at Apple’s tech conference last week. M. Cook was asked if Apple would make the iPhone’s messaging system compatible with Google’s Rich Communication Services to enable the questioner to send clearer videos and photos to his mother who has an Android phone.
Mr. Cook stated, “I don’t hear our users asking about that we put a lot in that at this point.” Buy your mom an iPhone.
A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment.
Fight for the Future’s Ms. George said that Mr. Cook’s comments were elitist as not everyone can afford an iPhone. She said that the incompatibility of Apple’s and Google messaging apps created a problem for digital privacy.
Google and Apple both encrypt messages through their messaging apps in order to make them unreadable to others than the sender and recipient. The encryption is only effective when Apple phones send messages to Android phones, and Android phones send messages to Apple phones. Users of different mobile operating system text one another, but their messages are not encrypted, so they can be read by other phone carriers.
Signal and third-party messaging apps such as Signal allow encrypted messaging between Android and Apple phones. However, these tools aren’t as popular as the default texting applications that come with our phones.
A Google spokesperson referred to a sequence of tweets by Hiroshi Blockheimer, the Google executive responsible for Android. He stressed the need for Apple support Rich Communication Services in order to improve privacy protection for iPhone and Android users.
Mr. Lockheimer stated that Apple was holding back the industry by not including R.C.S. and limiting the user experience not only for Android users, but also their customers.
After the reverse of Roe V. Wade , text message content has become more sensitive. Ms. George stated that law enforcement agencies now have access to data from phone companies and tech companies in order to prosecute women seeking abortion. She stated that this is one reason Apple and Google would benefit from working together on their messaging apps.
She said that Mr. Cook has staked his reputation in digital privacy.