Android iMessage dream may be over as Apple blocks Beeper

The service which was supposed to bring iMessage functionality to Android is no longer working.

Beeper is a startup using reverse-engineered code to bring iMessage functionality to Android cell phones. Using the Beeper Mini app, which costs $1.99 per month, it was possible to send and receive texts that show up in blue on Apple devices. This meant heightened security, media quality, and rich features. All of this was done without using Apple devices or relay servers.

However, just three days after the launch, Apple cut Beeper users off its ecosystem, downgrading them back to just sending “green bubbles,” which indicate standard SMS/MMS communication.

The service stopped working abruptly. Its users received alerts notifying that the number was unlinked from iMessage.

Apple confirmed to The Verge that it took steps to block the exploitation of fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage. “These techniques posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam, and phishing attacks. We will continue to make updates in the future to protect our users,” the comment obtained by the Verge reads.

Beeper, which openly shares its dream to integrate 15 popular chat networks, such as WhatsApp and Signal, into its app, still hopes to bring the iMessage functionality back.

The startup apologized to its users and announced that it is working to fix the issue causing the outage. The developers hope “to have good news to share soon.”

“We stand behind what we've built. Beeper Mini keeps your messages private, and boosts security compared to unencrypted SMS. For anyone who claims otherwise, we'd be happy to give our entire source code to a mutually agreed upon third party to evaluate the security of our app,” the company posted on X.

Beeper has successfully drawn the public's attention to the problem of incompatible standards between Apple and Android devices. It demonstrated that there are no technical reasons why users from these two ecosystems cannot communicate interoperably.

Beeper Mini allowed users to send high-resolution photos and videos, access threads, replies, read receipts, direct messages, group chats, tap back emoji reactions, edit and unsend messages, use stickers, GIFs, voice notes, and more.

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

“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.

Skeptics who didn’t expect the interoperability to last very long were proven to be correct.

“I really hope you survive Apple's inevitable attempts to kill this. A universal chat application would be amazing,” one user on Hacker News posted just after the start.

To Ian Zelbo, an editor at Apple Track, it seems like an endless cat-and-mouse game where Apple has the upper edge. Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky responded with a promise: “We will keep it working.”

Migicovsky expressed his disappointment to TechCrunch: “I would be very interested to hear why they think that making security worse for iPhone users makes sense.”

Apple has itself announced plans to support the Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard, starting early next year, albeit in green bubbles. With RCS, an industry standard for messaging, users will be able to send and receive high-quality photos and videos, chat over WiFi or cellular data, and know when messages were read, among other features.

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