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Explore the growing divide between iPhone and Android users in the era of iOS 17 exclusivity. Discover how Apple’s new features impact communication and safety, and whether these changes are a step too far in promoting brand loyalty.
I use both an Apple iPhone 14 Pro and a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but for the record, I am a non-iPhone user, often referred to as a “green bubble” by my friends and family. My SIM card tends to move between phones, and unfortunately, Apple’s iMessage no longer accommodates this, rendering it unusable for messaging across different devices. Apple has been criticized for offering exclusive features to its iPhone users, and with the upcoming iOS 17, it seems this divide will only widen.
As a green bubble, I’ve often found myself left out of group texts and unable to engage in FaceTime calls, and this has been a source of frustration. Some might wonder what the big deal is since regular text messages still work, and many people have transitioned to third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram. However, Apple’s iOS 17 is about to make this division a significant issue, primarily for iPhone users.
If you don’t have an iPhone, you might wonder what this fuss is all about. Let me explain. With iOS 17, Apple introduced a new feature where iPhone users can exchange contact information by simply holding their phones close together. It’s like a digital handshake using some secret iPhone magic. When this happens, a contact poster appears, essentially serving as a digital avatar for iPhone users. If you’re not part of the iPhone club, don’t worry; you won’t have a contact poster. This function is only available to iPhone users.
But the exclusivity doesn’t end there. Apple’s SharePlay feature allows iPhone users to share and enjoy music, videos, and games together seamlessly. If you’re an Android user, you can’t join in the fun. You’ll have to hum along while your iPhone friends have their secret dance parties.
This exclusivity extends to other aspects of iPhone usage, such as CarPlay, where only iPhone users get to curate the playlist while Android users can only listen.
Now, while these complaints may seem trivial, there’s a more concerning aspect to Apple’s exclusivity. Apple has introduced a safety feature called Check-In, which allows iPhone users to send location updates to each other, ensuring their loved ones are safe. This is particularly useful for situations like checking if someone arrived home safely or ensuring a child reaches their destination after school. If the person fails to check in, emergency procedures can be initiated, including notifying an emergency contact.
However, here’s the catch – Check-In only works between iPhone users. Android users are left out in the cold, unable to benefit from this potentially life-saving feature.
It’s worth noting that Check-In is currently in the iOS 17 public beta, so there’s a chance it could change before the final release. I’ve reached out to Apple for clarification and will update this if I receive a response. I genuinely hope that there’s a way to make this feature inclusive of Android users.
While I understand the concept of offering exclusive features within an ecosystem of devices, some features should remain universal and not be locked behind brand walls. Features like phone calls and text messages should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their device. If there’s a need for exclusive features, they should exist within their own separate networks rather than impeding basic communication.
What’s concerning is that this exclusivity is no longer just an inconvenience; it’s now a potential safety issue. If Android users can’t receive safety check-in messages from their loved ones, it raises questions about the extent to which Apple values user safety versus promoting its brand. Encouraging loved ones to buy iPhones just for the sake of safety is a step too far, and I hope Apple can find a way to ensure that the Check-In feature is accessible to everyone, not just those with iPhones.