For fuck’s sake WASHEDOUT pic means OFFLINE, normal color means opposite. And honestly why is online status relevant when it defaults to sms of they’re "offline. " Also they’ll read it when they do get online.
I applaud you on your observation, I was raging @ all the people who claimed there was no way to discern. I do agree however that the design transcends online status. Though I feel this trumps iMessage and Face time. Since Hangouts is now one app.