Iterate Weekly - Issue 138
This week we're talking about iMessage and green bubbles,YouTube camp for kids, AI doctors in CarePods, Cybertruck selling rules, & the Ropedrop & Parkhop podcast!
Welcome to issue 138 of Iterate Weekly!
Hope you’re all doing well. This is just a friendly reminder that you can always reply directly to these messages or leave a comment on the Substack post. Feedback is highly encouraged and I’m happy to answer any and all questions that come up.
Let’s jump into this week’s stories.
Nothing Chats, Sunbird, and the future of green bubbles
The iPhone vs. Android debate has reached a whole new level of intensity this week.
For a brief moment, there was an opportunity for Android users to change their iMessage bubbles to blue with the help of an app called “Nothing Chats”. Alas, the app was short-lived as it was pulled from the Google Play Store within hours of launch.
Let’s take a step back for those who haven’t been following this. For years, Apple has used its iMessage app as a marketing tactic to keep consumers buying iPhones. Messages sent in iMessage to other iPhone or MacOS users appear blue in the interface. They enjoy reactions, typing indicators, and high-resolution media transfers. It’s a pretty great system. Hell, I used iMessage for years on my Mac back in the day before things got contentious with Android users.
When a message comes in from a user outside the iOS ecosystem (i.e. an Android phone) their bubble in the interface looks green. It’s a clear indication that they’re different and don’t experience the same features as they would on iMessage. Send a photo through iMessage to someone using an Android device and they will see a pixelated mess. The software compresses the image or video to comical distortion like it was recorded on my dad’s old Panasonic camcorder in 1987.
So enter a company called Sunbird. Sunbird has been quietly developing a solution for this problem that essentially allows Android users to send their Apple ID credentials to a remote server that mimics the experience of iMessage on an Apple Device. While still a little bit clunky, it serves its purpose and makes the cross-communication between operating systems more tolerable.
Remember that Nothing Chats app I mentioned earlier? It’s really just a re-skinned version of the Sunbird app that was made exclusive to use on a device called the Nothing Phone (2). This was an opportunity for the Nothing Phone to really gain some traction in the US. It could be the first Android phone to natively handle iMessages! Well it did for about twelve hours before the app was pulled down as I mentioned.
Why was the app removed? In a word…security. Remember that you have to provide your Apple ID to this company where they claim it is entered into a mac mini server somewhere. Think about that for a second. You’re providing log-in credentials to a questionable company with no real history and they’re using the information to log into servers in a location you’re not familiar with. And this whole process offers no encryption. Any hacker with meager skills would have no problem taking a peek at the messages you’re sending on this Nothing Chats app. And if you have any other sensitive information tied to that Apple ID, consider it to be public information.
So where do we go from here? Us green bubble Android folks will continue on our path as outsiders (at least in the US, other countries seem to snicker at this odd stand-off and just use other messaging apps that are more inclusive). Apple did recently announce that they will adopt RCS technology for its messages in 2024. This is pretty big news but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Android users.
Apple will default to RCS messaging for those not using iMessage. So the pictures and videos sent from iPhone to Android should look much improved. Things like typing notifications and reactions should work well too. But Apple will still likely differentiate the blue and green bubbles. It’ll be a better experience for Android users, but they are still Android users after all and Apple doesn’t want anyone to forget it.
Would you send your kid to YouTube Camp?
If you ask a room full of teenagers today what they want to be when they grow up, you will inevitably get at least one response of “YouTube Creator” or “Influencer”.
So it makes total sense that there is a Creator Camp in Texas that now serves over 13,000 students at 18 locations.
As someone who has worked in influencer marketing for years, I can see the glamour associated with this career choice. Of course kids want to become YouTubers, they see them on their devices everyday and it feels like fun way to make a living without (visibly) working that hard. In previous generations kids admired astronauts and wanted to go to astronaut camp. These days they admire online personalities and naturally want to emulate them in the exploration of a whole new final frontier.
The summer camp concept is likely to bleed into other forms of education too. Will college students be able to major in TikTok or Instagram persuasion? How long of an educational journey will be needed for those who really want to excel at the craft?
♻️ Health/Environment/Electric Vehicles
Will CarePods be the future of health care?
Most of us hate going to the doctor right? Would it be better if we just walked into healthcare pods that were located in shopping malls and other public spaces?
It certainly sounds convenient. Waiting rooms are horribly inefficient. Most of the experience involves waiting around with minimal time with a human doctor anyway. Why not just cut to the chase and let an AI doctor diagnose you instead? The pod will be able to offer basic tests for common ailments and there will be a human attendant on-site if any issues arise.
For a cost of $99 per month, you can become a member with Forward Health and have access to these pods that are sprinkled around the country. The plan is to have 25 CarePods to start, and then ramp things up to 3,200 CarePods within a year. The hope would be to have enough locations to make the service scalable and convenient for folks in proximity of the largest population centers of the US.
Obviously there are plenty of things we still need human doctors to diagnose, but the CarePod could be a great first line of defense for healthy people. I’d argue that people might go to the doctor more if much of the friction was removed. With no lines, no waiting, and more appointment windows, the CarePod really could revolutionize how many people go to the doctor.
🛍 Grab Bag
Tesla won’t let you sell your Cybertruck too soon
A lot has been made about the long wait for people to receive their Tesla Cybertruck. But now, if you are one of the fortunate few to have one in their possession, you can’t freely re-sell it as you would any other car.
That’s right, Tesla will charge Cybertruck owners a $50k fee if they re-sell the vehicle too soon.
Many new car owners don’t read the fine print, but if they do with their Cybertruck purchase they’ll see that they can’t sell the vehicle within their first year of ownership without incurring the fine.
Tesla states that it “may seek injunctive relief to prevent the transfer of title of the Vehicle” if buyers breach its resale provision, or it may “demand liquidated damages from you in the amount of $50,000 or the value received as consideration for the sale or transfer, whichever is greater.” The terms also warn that offending resellers could be barred from buying vehicles from Tesla in the future.
Why is Tesla doing this? They’re trying to limit the ability for ambitious customers to flip the trucks at a profit. With so few Cybertrucks entering the market, exorbitant resales costs could tarnish the brand. In extenuating circumstances, it looks like Tesla is able to buy back Cybertrucks from unsatisfied customers but will deduct the cost of mileage and any wear and tear.
Let’s hope that Cybertruck customers are happy with their purchase and this story becomes a non-issue. But it certainly made me raise an eyebrow that a company could write in a clause like that to prohibit free exchange on the secondary market. I wouldn’t want other companies taking note here. Imagine Apple creating something similar when looking to resell a computer?
💬 Quote of the Week
"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
-Frank A. Clark
Ropedrop & Parkhop Podcast
This one might sound a little odd but hear me out.
If you’re a parent planning a trip to a Disney resort (ahem, something I’m in the midst of right now) you should absolutely be listening to “Ropedrop & Parkhop”. These two ladies know everything there is to know to maximize your time at the happiest place on earth and their chemistry and banter is a joy to listen to.
And I should add that visiting a Disney park has gotten far more complicated than it was back in my day! There is a surprising amount of tech involved too. Tickets are solely digital these days, everything goes through the Disney app. Special bracelets can be used for easy tap access to enter the park and hop on rides. There is a lot going on that isn’t all that intuitive. So thank goodness for resources like this podcast.
Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next week!
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