Google rolled out a long overdue update for Android Messages to bring it on par with Apple iMessage. As a matter of fact, now Messages also catches up with other popular alternatives for Android phones.
Today, we are comparing Android Messages with iOS iMessage. It may seem like iMessage leads the battle with features like support for location and file sharing. However, Messages is catching up quickly.
Interestingly, Apple limits iMessage to its ecosystem while Google aims to cover most platforms with the web support.
Let’s see how both fare against each other. It might be like comparing apples with oranges but I will do my best.
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Apple is known to take the security seriously as much as Google. That's why iMessage is no different and comes with end-to-end encryption enabled by default on all iOS devices. It means that no one can read your messages unless they have physical access to your device.
Surprisingly, Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted which makes it vulnerable. Add to the fact that there are hordes of apps on the Play Store seeking access to messages, your phone is one bad app permission away from being compromised.
Note: Encryption on iMessage only works if you are exchanging messages between the platform.
When you send a message from iMessage to Android Messages, encryption won’t work because your messages are then stored on Google servers.
2. Individual Contact Settings
We all have that one friend/relative/sibling who likes to nag consistently over messages. The sad part is that blocking is not always an alternative, and you don't want to check your phone frequently to see their texts.
While both iMessage and Messages offer ways to tackle this, Android has more options.
On iPhone, open the chat window of the person and tap on the ‘i’ icon.
You will see an option to Hide Alerts. Enabling this will add a half-moon icon in front of the message.
Android offers a similar function but with more controls. Open the message window of the person, tap on menu, and select People & options.
Tap on Notifications.
Inside Importance, you can choose to receive both sound and visual pop-up, just sound, no sound, or no sound and visual pop-up.
Under the Advanced section, you can also control notification light and whether the message appears on the lock screen or not. Convenient when your phone is not silent but you will want to silent someone’s message notification.
3. Video Calls
Both Apple and Google have video calling apps called FaceTime and Duo respectively. Google also offers Hangouts but it is being marketed to business users lately. While Duo is set to be a FaceTime rival, it is not integrated into Messages for some reason.
iMessage allows you to make video calls using FaceTime from the message window itself. That is convenient and reduces the number of steps you have to go through just to make video call.
Note: Android Messages allows making audio calls from inside the app and so does iMessage.
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4. Third-Party App Integration
This is where iMessage really takes the lead leaving Messages behind. Sorry Android lovers, but it’s true. When you open a chat window, you will notice a bunch of icons at the bottom of the screen.
The icons may vary based on the apps that you have installed on your iPhone. As you begin to scroll through the icons horizontally, you will see a More option where you can configure app shortcuts.
You can attach files from Dropbox, share favorite music from Apple Music, share photos directly from Google Photos, and so on.
This is amazing as it changes the way you can use iMessage. It becomes a productivity tool and something more than a way to exchange message and emojis.
5. Common Ground
Let’s take a look at the similar features present in iMessage and Messages. Both allow users to send emojis, share images from the Gallery/Photos app, and share a selfie.
In case of Messages, all the options are included inside one handy pop-up screen. Just tap on the ‘+’ icon to reveal it, and that's how you can send emojis, access the Gallery app, take a selfie, share your location, and record audio notes.
iMessage also allows you to do all that albeit with a slightly different layout. Options are a little scattered and make you tap a couple of times. Sending photos or taking selfies is easy using the camera icon.
To send emojis, you will have to tap the globe icon on your default iOS keyboard. I don’t reckon this is really important because you can use third-party keyboards too and they all support emojis.
To record an audio note, tap on the icon next to the typing area. To share your current location, tap on the ‘i’ icon at the top of the screen and select Share My Current Location.
Apart from this, Messages for Web allows you to read and send messages using any browser. To set it up, scan a QR code and you are in.
Note: Messages must be connected with your Apple ID to send and receive the iMessages.
iMessage works with Messages for Mac, a dedicated app which also supports other texting services.
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Android Messages vs. iMessage
Google has done a decent job with Messages and brought it on par with iMessage. But there are still some glaring issues. First is the lack of end-to-end encryption.
Second is no integration of other Google apps by default. Considering the number of apps Google has developed over the years, Messages could be a productivity hub.
iMessage supports a handful of third-party apps and the number keeps growing gradually. I would certainly side with iMessage with all the security and features integrated. But since most of my friends have Android phones, I use Android Messages too.
Next up: Want to impress your friends with messaging skills using some new tricks? Check the link below to learn 9 tips for the iPhone keyboard.