A change to messaging in iOS 17 might be on the way to alleviate some of the pain involved in group chats between iPhone and Android owners. The folks at XDA Developers spotted some new messaging behaviors in the iOS 17 developer beta released yesterday that means iOS users will retain some of the benefits of iMessage chats even in mixed company. If the new features make it to the full iOS 17 release, it would be a win for iPhone owners — and a bit of a mixed bag for those on Android.
Right now, a group chat with both Android and iOS users reverts everyone to green bubbles and the ancient SMS / MMS protocol that limits the quality of shared images and videos and strips away iMessage features like the ability to edit sent messages. iPhone owners don’t get all of the features they enjoy in iOS-only chats, Android owners get blamed for bringing the vibe down — it’s a bummer for everyone. But things might be different in iOS 17.
XDA says that, with the beta installed, iOS users have been able to edit their own green-bubble messages in mixed group chats. Images and videos are also shared at the higher resolutions available in iMessage. They can also thread responses as replies to specific messages, just like in iMessage. Neat! But here’s the downside: only the other iPhone users see any of this. Android users still get reduced-quality images and videos, don’t see edits made to texts, and threaded replies just show up as regular messages with the rest of the conversation.
At least, that’s how it all behaves today. It’s all subject to change in the final release. It’s possible that Apple will add some functions to send edited texts as additional separate messages and indicate which messages are replies. It’s also possible that Apple will scrap the whole thing entirely before any of this makes it to the full iOS 17 release in the fall, so take it all with a big grain of salt.
But as someone who’s frequently the lone Android user in the group chat, I’d personally welcome anything that takes some of the heat off of me for having the audacity to not be using an iPhone. Or, you know, RCS would be nice, but at least this would be a start.