The last few weeks and months have brought into stark relief the degree to which Facebook parent Meta and Apple are engaged in something of a cold war with each other.
Apple, of course, is rumored to be working on futuristic AR glasses that would stand in direct competition with Meta’s Quest headsets. Accordingly, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees in an internal meeting last month, his company is in a “very deep, philosophical competition” with the iPhone maker over the ongoing development of the burgeoning metaverse. But the competition between the two companies doesn’t stop there, either.
With iOS 14, Apple rolled out one simple change to its mobile operating software, one that now asks users if they’ll allow the app that they’re using to track them around the web. That change subsequently vaporized billions of dollars from Meta’s balance sheet. Just a few days ago, Meta also reported its first-ever year-over-year quarterly revenue decline. While Apple pushed through headwinds including China and inflation to report a quarterly revenue gain and hint at an even stronger coming quarter.
Facebook Messenger vs the Apple Messages app
All that said, this doesn’t change the fact that there’s at least one thing I think Facebook gets right over Apple. Notwithstanding, of course, how popular it is to hate on the former and fawn over the latter.
Let’s talk about the messaging experience on both platforms. For me, Facebook Messenger is the superior messaging platform, and it’s not even close.
Now, when it comes to privacy? Of course, you’ve got to give Apple the edge there. But purely in terms of the user experience, here’s why Apple’s Messages app is lagging behind Facebook Messenger. Starting with the issue of spam.
I never, and I mean absolutely never, get spam or junk in my Facebook Messenger app. Anything that does seem a little sketchy, Messenger hides away in a kind of second, secret inbox that you have to tab over to. But again, it’s been years since the app has even had to do that for me. Apple’s app, on the other hand? Non. Stop. Spam. Granted, I know that’s largely an issue tied to the phone number/carrier, and that you can now do some things in iOS to combat this. But I’ve found them to be an imperfect solution, at least so far.
My favorite Messenger feature
Moving on, I also feel like I can get things done inside Facebook Messenger, generally speaking, with fewer taps than in Apple’s app. Stickers and GIFs? Much quicker and simpler to send inside Messenger. Sending someone your live location so they can follow your progress? I dare you to figure out how to do that on your iPhone without Googling it. Again, extremely simple and intuitive to do inside Messenger.
Of course, the news out of Facebook and Meta and recent days has been all about the fusty, 18-year-old legacy app. And Meta’s belief that shoehorning more “Recommended” content into people’s feeds (on Instagram, too) is the way to counter the threat from TikTok. Messenger, though, is one component of Zuckerberg’s empire that I think is still incredibly useful, nevermind all of the quasi-obituaries for the company that have been written over the past week.
Which brings me to my favorite Messenger feature. The ability to quickly message anyone, or any business.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dashed off a quick question in Messenger to a hotel I’m traveling to. As well as to restaurants, and to sources around the world who don’t use an iPhone. During the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, for example? I was chatting back and forth on Messenger with a reporter over there who kept sending me audio messages via the app while she scanned the departures board at the airport in Kabul.
For comparison, I don’t know that there’s a single local business where I live that uses Apple’s Messages feature that lets you similarly communicate with businesses. To even find those available options? Counterintuitively, you do so outside of Apple’s Messages app — in Maps, in fact. If you see the appropriate symbol, then you can initiate a Messages chat with the business right there.