Some of you may have read my article yesterday, which talked about my switch from the Apple iPhone 5s over to the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact. For the most part, I am pleased with the switch; there are a lot of changes that I’m happy with. My battery life is superb (in comparison – I still hope for even better battery life in the future), I have a microSD card again, the phone is well-made, and I’m even having fun with the Android customization options again. Despite the switch, though, there are still certain things that I’m missing about iOS. I mentioned that I liked how “ready to go” iOS in general was compared to Android, but the other thing I’m missing is iMessage.
It sounds silly when I think about it, but it’s true. A lot of my friends use iOS, and iMessage is a great platform for communicating. Unfortunately, as most of you know, it’s only great for communicating with other Apple users, because Apple’s platforms are the only platforms that support it. iMessage has never been available for any other platform.
So, what about Hangouts? Google’s “version” of iMessage, so to speak, is a lot like iMessage. You can even use it from multiple platforms, which is a bonus. But, at the end of the day, I still find Hangouts to be more difficult than iMessage ever was. I’ve only been using my Xperia Z3C for around 4 days now, but I do miss iMessage. I think it’s because, at least in this case, the simplicity of the service does – to be completely cliché – “just work”.
That’s the easiest way I can think of to describe what’s so great about iMessage over Hangouts. This is a case where the phrase “less is more” does seem to work. It’s easy to set up iMessage, and it’s easy to use it. It’s easy to use because once it’s set up you don’t have to do anything else. The operating system does the rest of the work for you. Is the particular friend you are texting using an iPhone with iMessage turned on? Yes? Phone switches to blue bubbled iMessage, and all iMessage features are available to use in this particular chat. No? Green bubbled SMS, proceed like normal. It's all in the same client, no further explanation is really needed. It's also a very clean and easy layout.
Then you have Hangouts. I like Hangouts for the extensive features you can use, but in comparison to iMessage it’s definitely not as easy, convenient, or simple to use. Most (if not all) Android smartphones come equipped with a basic messaging app as well as Hangouts. The first time you text somebody you have the option of using either Hangouts or your phone’s standard messaging app. It’s a little confusing to somebody who doesn’t know what Hangouts even is. Honestly, that’s my biggest hang-up with Hangouts itself – it’s not integrated as well, but that most likely has something to do with so many different manufacturers selling Android phones as opposed to Apple being their own manufacturer.
The bigger problem would be my friends who have iPhones, use iMessage, and are expected to also use Hangouts for Android users like myself for my convenience. Yes, they can do it, but this takes away the simplicity that iMessage provides. And Android users can’t download iMessage because it’s an Apple-only app.
So at the end of the day we’re faced with two problems: Hangouts isn’t integrated nearly as well, and iMessage is an Apple exclusive. Awesome. In a perfect world, I would much prefer there to be one unified system that works much like iMessage does – except instead of Apple device to Apple device, it would be smart device to smart device. Everybody having their own unique system is too complicated.