Texting between Android and iPhones isn’t always the smoothest experience. Photos and videos get pixelated, messages from Android users show up as the dreaded green chat bubble on iPhone, and then there are emoji reactions. When an iPhone user hits the thumbs-up or heart reaction emoji, that doesn’t translate to Android, and it shows up as an awkward text description of the emoji instead.
Google has been trying to fix some of that, though it faces the never-ending challenge of buy-in from Apple. This week, Google said that updates coming to Messages will allow Android users to respond to iPhone texts with emojis. Other updates include the ability to thread responses to individual messages, embed YouTube videos directly in messages, and get automatic transcriptions of voice messages on certain phones. It’s a concerted effort by Google to make messaging on Android more appealing and put pressure on Apple to meet it halfway.
The technical point of contention here has been Rich Communications Services, a messaging standard that Google has been pushing its partners to adopt over the past year. RCS handles attachments and media better than the SMS standard that has been the norm in messaging for decades. Thing is, Apple has its own messaging standard between iPhones and other Apple devices, and then defaults to SMS when an iPhone user and Android user are exchanging messages. And Apple expressed exactly zero interest in switching to RCS. So a lot of messages get lost in translation between the platforms.
Last month, Google made a public plea for Apple to switch its standards so iOS messages would play nice with Android devices. But after Apple CEO Tim Cook’s withering dismissal of the idea, the stalemate between the tech giants continues. At least Android users—or those considering the switch—are getting slightly better messages with this latest update.
Here’s some other gadget news.
Come Along and Ride on a Fantastic … Advertising Voyage?
Anyone who has ever ridden in a New York City taxicab has seen their fair share of commercials on a loop, which over the years has evolved from “Taxi TV” to straight-up programmatic advertising. So it seems inevitable that rideshare services like Uber would want to capitalize on all that quiet, peaceful passenger downtime and fill your ride with ads.
Uber has tinkered with advertising during rides before, like when it added taxi-style ad billboards to the tops of cars in 2020. But in a press release this week, Uber laid out its plans to “capture consumers’ attention” by serving them ads during nearly every part of an Uber interaction. Uber users can look forward to audio ads playing while they wait for a ride and during the trip. The company is also planning to display prominent ads across the Uber Eats app, send sponsored emails, and slap even more video ads on tablets inside cars.
Remember folks, it’s not about the destination; it’s about how much you buy on the journey.
Sharing Is Caring, Unless You’re Netflix
In other bleak news from the land of capital extraction, Netflix is about to start charging for all those extra users siphoning off one person’s account. This week, Netflix said it will finally move to put an end to people sharing their logins. The price will be $4 a head for each extra account that’s not considered in the same home. Netflix has been testing the crackdown since March, though not in the US. But soon, it seems, it will be platform-wide. Netflix said the new policy will go into effect in 2023.
As if to preempt the decision, Netflix announced earlier this week that it will now allow you to spin off a sub account into its own paying account. You’ll have to splurge on the full monthly fee, but at least it will keep your watch history and preferences intact.