How Apple plays with colors to make you prefer iMessage

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Apple’s closed system is regularly singled out. And lately, it’s iMessage that’s been a source of controversy. We can consider that it all started at the beginning of the year, following the publication of an article in the Wall Street Journal about the pressure that some teenagers would undergo because of the color of their messages on iPhone.

As a reminder, when an iPhone user sends a text message to another iPhone user through the iMessage application, this message is displayed in a blue bubble. However, when the message is sent from an Android device to an iPhone, it is displayed in a green bubble. And besides, these text messages are sent via simple SMS or MMS, which means that the two interlocutors do not benefit from the advanced messaging functions of iMessage.

iMessage Contrast

© Lemon squeezer

In essence, when they are in a group using mostly iPhones, an Android user can feel left out. The article was widely taken up, and even made Google react. The Mountain View company asked Apple to support RCS technology (the successor to SMS) to allow iOS and Android users to communicate while taking advantage of advanced functions. Apple, however, is not ready to accept.

The choice of colors is not trivial

But aside from the fact that texting between iOS and Android users is done via old-fashioned SMS, it’s possible that even the choice of colors iMessage uses may impact users. In any case, this is what Allen Hsu, a UX designer, indicates in a post published recently on UX Collective.

He accuses the Cupertino company of using a “trick” so that users perceive the green bubbles, therefore the messages sent by Android users, as being “disgusting”. “An Awesome Trick You Probably Should Never Use”he also says.

But what is it? According to Allen Hsu, it’s not the green the problem, but the green used by Apple. According to this specialist, the blue chosen by Apple (for messages sent between iPhone users) gives a good contrast compared to the white of the text. But this is not valid for the green chosen for messages from Android users.

“In other words, since the text is white, Apple probably chose a darker blue, but a lighter green to deliberately make the iMessage text more readable”writes Allen Hsu.

A choice of contrasts

And it’s not just an impression. According to him, the combination of green and white chosen by Apple would not even pass the accessibility test against WCAG recommendations (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). As a result, this color has an impact on readability and user experience, especially if the latter has vision problems.

iMessage Contrast

© UX Collective

So if you didn’t know, until now, why you don’t like those green bubbles that appear on iMessage when you receive a text from an Android, you now have part of the answer: it’s a contrast.

By the way, you can do your own tests by going to the “Color Contrast Accessibility Validator” site, which is included in the list of tools published by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).

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