This spontaneous anti-green-bubble brigade is an interesting example of how sometimes very subtle product decisions in technology influence the way culture works. Apple uses a soothing, on-brand blue for messages in its own texting platform, and a green akin to that of the Android robot logo for people texting from outside its ecosystem (as people have pointed out on Twitter, iPhone texts were default green in days before iMessage—but it was shaded and more pleasant to the eye; somewhere along the line things got flat and mean).
There are all sorts of reasons for them to use different colors. (iMessage texts are seen as data, not charged on a per-text basis, and so the different colors allow people to register how much a given conversation will cost—useful!) However, one result of that decision is that a goofy class war is playing out over digital bubble colors. Their decision has observable social consequences. - It’s Kind of Cheesy Being Green

It’s Kind of Cheesy Being Green has been making the rounds, accusing Apple of purposely signifying non-iOS users. It’s an interesting take but completely wholly disingenuous. Apple has had some slights before, (Get a Mac?) but this isn’t one of them.

This unintentionally has lead to “Green Bubbles”, the UI convention of using Green vs Blue has been a quick methodology to let users know if the other recipient is using Messages. The author does understand that Messages has practical application and is important as any “iMessage” isn’t counted as a text or SMS, and host of other reasons: videos shared between iOS users are higher bit rate, and know that their text messages use encryption, thus can’t be snooped easily. However, not all iOS users use Messages hence not all iOS users are “blue”, and if a user is not connected to the internet in a low service area where only basic service is available he or she will only be able to send/receive SMS, hence “not blue”.

It didn’t start with blue

There’s one fact I’ve yet to see called out. Back in iPhone OS days before Messages (formerly iMessage) all texts were green. I know this as I still have my iPhone 3G. 

Don’t take my word for it…. Here’s a screenshot from Google images, source unknown.


Check out iOS 4.x reviews. iMore. Ars Technica. CNET. Or go back to iPhone OS 3.0.  You won’t find “blue bubbles” as iMessage wasn’t introduced until iOS 5.

Had green been introduced to to denote specifically non-iMessage, the author may have been onto something.