Beeper concedes to Apple, issues last app fix to support iMessage

Beeper mini, the app that made iMessage texting between Android and iPhone possible, only to be repeatedly shut down by Apple, has made its final bid. After issuing its most recent software update, the team will no longer search for workarounds but rather focus on “building the best chat app on earth.”

Beeper achieved what was once thought to be impossible: enabling iMessage communication between incompatible platforms. At first, it used an elegant reverse-engineered iMessage protocol and encryption solution, which required no Apple ID or device, just a phone number to enable encrypted rich communication between Android and iOS.

Messages from Beeper users showed up in blue color bubbles on iPhones, indicating the iMessage service, not the green bubbles marking standard SMS/MMS communication, which are limited in features and quality.

This only worked for a few days before Apple shut down Beeper users’ access to iMessage, citing “significant risks to user security and privacy.”

Eric Migicovsky and Brad Murray, Beeper cofounders, then called Apple's statements “complete FUD.”

“Beeper Mini made communication between Android and iPhone users more secure. That is a fact,” the cofounders claimed.

Beeper tried releasing multiple updates to bring the functionality back, each of them making the user experience more complicated. But Apple just introduced more obstacles to disable the workarounds.

The last Beeper update requires users to have an actual Apple device, i.e., an old iPhone, to enable iMessage communication on Android.

Beeper look

The back-and-forth battle is coming to an end, with Goliath winning.

“Each time that Beeper Mini goes ‘down’ or is made to be unreliable due to interference by Apple, Beeper’s credibility takes a hit. It’s unsustainable,” the latest Beeper blog post reads.

“As much as we want to fight for what we believe is a fantastic product that really should exist, the truth is that we can’t win a cat-and-mouse game with the largest company on earth.”

Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky hopes Apple can tolerate the existing workaround using actual Apple devices, but if it also fails, there will be no updates.

“We do not have any current plans to respond if this solution is knocked offline. The iMessage connection software that powers Beeper Mini and Beeper Cloud is now 100% open-source. Anyone who wants can use it or continue development. In the new year, we’re shifting focus back to our long-term goal of building the best chat app on earth,” Migicovsky said.

The goal for Beeper is to enable chatting with anyone from a single app, adding support for at least 15 chat networks, such as WhatsApp or Signal, and maintaining secure encryption and reliability.

Responded to “flawed” claims

In a blog post, Beeper CEO Migicovsky also responded to Apple and other commentators' claims, which he calls “flawed.” Beeper received criticism as posing risks to security and privacy.

“It’s straightforward to verify that Beeper Mini is not a malicious app designed to steal your messages and accounts or harvest your data. If you want, you can inspect the code of our core open-source iMessage bridge (which is embedded inside Beeper Mini), and self-host it yourself to prove that it only connects to Apple servers,” Migicovsky said.

“If Apple wants to accuse us of being insecure, they need to back that up with hard evidence. We’re eager to fix any security issues reported by Apple or anyone else.”

He confirmed that Beeper Mini upgraded insecure chats between iPhone and Android contacts and made them secure with end-to-end encryption. Therefore, by blocking Beeper Mini, “Apple is actively harming” iPhone users.

Migicovsky also disagreed with the claims that Beeper “exploits fake credentials” to gain access to Apple services or that it enables unwanted spam.

Apple itself announced that it will support Rich Communication Services (RCS) next year, but that is yet to be seen.

“In 2010, Steve Jobs promised that Apple ‘would make FaceTime an open industry standard.’ That never happened. More recently, in 2021, Apple promised to open its Find My network to competitors like Tile. Instead, they’ve penalized Tile with additional warnings in front of their app. Beeper Mini has a working solution to this problem today. Why should iPhone customers and Android users have to wait for Apple to adopt RCS? What if their implementation is delayed? What if they cancel it?” Migicovsky wondered.

He criticized Apple for locking customers into its official app for texting while controlling more than 50% of the US smartphone market and believed that large companies “must follow a different set of rules that govern fair competition, harm to consumers and barriers to innovation.”

Politicians are getting suspicious

Four bipartisan US representatives sent a letter to the Assistant Attorney General, calling on the DOJ’s Antitrust Divison to investigate whether Apple’s shutdown of Beeper’s service “violated the antitrust laws,” 9To5Google reported.

Congress members cited a report describing Apple as a “gatekeeper” with a “monopoly position” and claimed that interoperability has long been a key driver of competition and consumer choice.

“We are therefore concerned that Apple’s recent actions to disable Beeper Mini harm competition, eliminate choices for consumers, and will discourage future innovation and investment in interoperable messaging services,” the letter reads.

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren also expressed an expectation that chatting between different platforms should be easy and secure.

“Green bubble texts are less secure. So why would Apple block a new app allowing Android users to chat with iPhone users on iMessage? Big Tech executives are protecting profits by squashing competitors,” Warren posted on X.

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