Opinion

Is an iMessage clone really that big of an ask for Samsung?

In case you missed this month’s news, the ongoing legal drama between Apple and Epic gave recently gave us the final confirmation of what we already knew for a long while now: An Android port of iMessage won’t happen for as long as Apple is making smartphones. But what Epic’s attorneys failed to uncover in their comical attempt to sue capitalism out of Apple is why Samsung hasn’t simply cloned iMessage long ago and been done with it.

Deceptive simplicity is a hallmark of timeless design, as Samsung itself often demonstrates. So, no matter how straightforward iMessage might seem, functionality-wise, even just a barebones clone of Apple’s messaging app represents a way bigger threshold than one might suspect at first.

Was it reasonable to expect so much of Samsung in the past?

Not even the combined market forces of Samsung and Google have yet managed to truly upset the golden standard of instant messaging that Apple managed to set all those years ago.

Samsung, in particular, had a few attempts at figuring out this niche over the years – and not just on Android, mind you. Remember ChatON? Probably not, hardly anyone does. But that thing was available on iOS and BlackBerry devices from day one.

Samsung grew wiser following that experience, at least in the sense that it became more stubborn with its choice of an app name. But the default Messages app from way back when has little to do with the Samsung Messages build we’re currently using. Not that anyone’s complaining, seeing how we’ve finally started glimpsing the potential greatness of a unified messaging experience on Galaxy devices, which might just be more on Google than Samsung.

But is a full-featured iMessage clone still an unreasonable ask? It might be more accurate to ask whether Samsung is even interested in obliging with that request. And given how much emphasis it’s been placing on third-party integrations lately, I’m leaning toward a pretty firm ‘no’ here. Samsung’s overall software capabilities have certainly matured since the ChatON days. That doesn’t necessarily mean Samsung can finally rival iMessage in every respect, but to be honest, it’s getting hard to tell the difference between the two. Especially for someone who hasn’t used an AR filter since the Galaxy S9 days.

Keep in mind that RCS support, on its own, doesn’t do that much to even the playing ground. But its continued deployment, mind-numbingly gradual as it may be, is still great news for consumers. So, those of us still hoping for Samsung Messages to turn into iMessage any day now might end up disappointed. Or we might not, as that would require admitting to ourselves that this is never going to happen.

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