Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told Apple employees at his company’s latest town hall meeting that he was using the Apple Music beta for Android users to “test the waters for growing its services division through other platforms,” according to tech news site 9to5Mac.
Translation: Cook may be ready to make Apple’s many mobile apps available for Android users. Until now, the tech giant has mostly avoided expanding its apps beyond its own iOS universe.
Apple Music for Android debuted in November as an early test—or beta—version for Google’s (GOOGL) mobile platform. Prior to Apple Music’s premiere on Android, Apple (AAPL) had only introduced one other Android app, Move to iOS.
That app serves the single purpose of transferring an Android user’s personal information such as contacts, messages, and photos to an iOS device. So it isn’t exactly an example of Apple embracing Android.
As for what Apple could possibly add to its Android lineup, one app comes to mind: iMessage.
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Users of Apple products can send and receive messages, photos, and videos using iMessage to fellow Apple users. Unlike text messages that rely on a carrier connection in most cases, iMessage is sent through Apple’s servers as long as the device has a data connection.
Apple’s messaging service isn’t without its flaws. Removing a phone number from the service after a user switches to another platform, such as Android, is still a hassle despite Apple having released a tool to make it easier.
Opening up more services to products outside of Apple’s ecosystem must be done in the right way. Products like FaceTime and iMessage are meant to attract users to Apple products. By hypothetically giving Android users access to iMessage, how would Apple benefit?
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One way could be Apple’s rumored peer-to-peer payment service. Previous reports indicate Apple is working with U.S. banks to let iPhone users send money digitally to fellow iPhone users. According to the report, Apple will collect a fee for each payment processed from the banks involved.
There’s also speculation that Apple could create a rival payment service to Square Cash and Venmo by use iMessage to deliver and receive payments. By introducing iMessage on Android—complete with a payment feature—Apple would ensure some return on its investment in developing for a competing platform.
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All of this is pure speculation, of course. Apple may have plans to put other apps on Android like Apple Maps, the iTunes catalog of movies and TV shows, or iBooks platform. Or maybe it will do nothing at all.