Just before WWDC 2016 kicked off this week, one of the rumors that popped up was that Apple would announced iMessage for Android, allowing the free, encrypted messaging service to co-exist on both platforms. However, the WWDC keynote passed with the only focus on iMessage being new texting effects, stickers, and more. Now, as The Verge‘s Walt Mossberg explains, an Apple executive has revealed why iMessage is unlikely to come to Android anytime in the near future.
This unnamed Apple executive says that the iMessage service is basically one of the exclusives that adds value to the iOS/Mac ecosystem. By “having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices” is a contributing factor in drawing customers to Apple’s devices and keeping them tied to the platform.
The second reason noted doesn’t really involve consumers as much, but with 1 billion active devices, Apple feels it doesn’t need to expand that user base in order to gather more data for its AI learning efforts.
Artificial intelligence is a relatively new focus for the company, but as we saw during the WWDC keynote, collecting data through an anonymized method called differential privacy helps them improve things like QuickType suggestions and search recommendations.
While Apple’s logic of keeping its best features exclusive to its platform makes sense, the company has already launched its Apple Music service on Android. And there’s still a reason to argue that iMessage on Android would be a benefit for Apple users, namely that they would be free to message with people who own Android devices in the same convenient way they do with Apple owners; i.e. eliminating the need to switch between multiple messaging apps.