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The dreaded green bubble! But what does it really mean?
Up until iOS 5, Apple only used a text messaging technology known as Short Message Service (SMS). SMS has been the standard protocol for text messaging since 1992 and the purpose of SMS was to use cellular signals to send point to point messages made up exclusively of text.
Since SMS’ creation, over 3.5 billion people have used the service. And, in 2010 alone, 6.1 TRILLION text messages were sent. Yes, trillion.
However, there are quite a few downsides to standard SMS text messaging.
- SMS messages aren’t encrypted. That means that if someone were to intercept your text messages, it would be easy to read in plain text just like how the intended person on the other end would see it.
- Another downside is the fact that you can’t tell if someone has read, or even received, the text you sent. SMS doesn’t have a delivery notification system, you won’t know that it never made it to its destination. It’s like shipping a package without a tracking number.
- Also, SMS text messaging has to fight for network traffic, and they’re always put at the lowest priority. Let’s say you’re at a major sporting event and you try to send a text message. It might not ever be delivered because there are a lot of other people making phone calls and also sending text messages nearby.
With all of SMS’ limitations, Apple set out to fix them, and iMessage became Apple’s answer to these problems.
Pros of iMessage
- iMessage works on all newer iOS and macOS devices and doesn’t even require you to have a phone number. You can send and receive messages using your Apple ID email address to anyone using iMessage.
- iMessage is entirely end-to-end encrypted, so you know your messages can’t be intercepted.
- Another great element of iMessage is that it sends your message as a data packet instead of using SMS. So if you happen to be outside of a cellular coverage area, but you are still within Wi-Fi coverage, you can still send and receive messages from anyone using an iPhone (or similar Apple device).
- Apple also has a delivery service built right in to iMessage, so you’ll always know if the person on the other end has received, or even read, your message.
Blue Bubbles vs Green Bubbles
Blue bubbles represent iMessage. You can always be sure that your messages, pictures, and videos are safe and secure when you see blue bubbles.
iMessage is an Apple device-only service. So if you see that blue bubble, you’re almost guaranteed to be talking to someone with an iPhone.
Green bubbles represent SMS. It’s an old technology, but it still gets the job done. Those messages aren’t encrypted, and you won’t know if it made it to the person you are trying to reach. If you see the green bubble, you are likely messaging someone with an Android phone, or (gasp) a flip phone!