Meta ratchets up Apple rivalry with ads targeting iMessage

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On Monday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a picture of an ad in New York’s Penn Station that suggests Meta’s WhatsApp is more secure and private than Apple’s messaging system and traditional text messages.

“WhatsApp is far more private and secure than iMessage, with end-to-end encryption that works across both iPhones and Android, including group chats,” Zuckerberg posted on Instagram.

End-to-end encryption means that the messaging system is built in a way that the provider of the service can’t see the content of the texts and can’t provide them in response to a legal request. Both WhatsApp and iMessage are encrypted. But, messages and device backups on either service might be stored in a way that the company can access them. SMS messages are stored by wireless cellular carriers.

WhatsApp introduced encrypted backups last year, Zuckerberg noted. He also highlighted a feature that allows WhatsApp users to set new messages to automatically delete.

“All of which iMessage still doesn’t have,” Zuckerberg wrote in his post. He added that the company is working on end-to-end encryption for Instagram messages in a comment.

Meta has considered Apple to be a competitor for years, even before the Facebook parent company started moving into computer hardware like its VR headsets. “Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage,” Zuckerberg said in a 2018 earnings call.

The Meta ads come after Google took aim at iMessage’s blue bubbles in a campaign of its own over the summer. Google wants Apple to adopt RCS, a next-generation text messaging system that replaces SMS messages with new features and improved encryption.

Apple’s iMessage is available for iPhones, Macs and iPads. Users who text regularly with Android users say that “green bubbles,” as SMS messages appear on iPhones, is an inferior texting experience.

Cook was asked if Apple would consider adopting RCS at a conference in September. The questioner said that he couldn’t send videos to his mom because of the limitations of SMS messaging.

Cook said that Apple’s users hadn’t been asking for improvements and that the best thing to do to solve the problem is to buy an iPhone.

“Buy your mom an iPhone,” Cook said.

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