In November, Apple announced that it would finally support the RCS messaging standard, allowing Android devices and iPhones to communicate on a potentially more level playing field. The update won’t be released until early 2024, but luckily there’s a third-party solution you can download today called Beeper Mini.
The app gives Android users the ability to send end-to-end encrypted texts to an iPhone using Apple’s proprietary iMessage protocol. This means that both parties see all messages in blue bubbles instead of forcing Android hardware into green bubbles. You don’t need an Apple ID to use the service. Even if you had one, the developer Pieper says it cannot access your Apple account. However, users must give Beeper Mini permission to access their phone’s SMS and call logs to verify the number and sync pre-existing conversations to turn them into real iMessage chats.
Looking at the official Google Play Store listing, you’ll find that Beeper Mini has a host of iMessage features. You can send full-size photos and videos to others and respond to their content with an emoji. The app also lets you join previously inaccessible group chats that were only available on the iPhone. Additionally, the software provides a way to sync iMessages with other “Android or iOS devices, including” iPads.
Other notable features include typing status, read receipts, undo send, and more. Beeper Mini is now available for download. You’ll have to pay $1.99 to use the service, although the developer offers a seven-day free trial to start.
How it works
You may be wondering how this is even possible. It’s complicated, to say the least.
The way it works, according to an official blog post, is that a text message is sent from an Android number to Apple’s ‘Gateway Service’. The gateway then responds with its own message and sends the first text to Apple’s servers to register it as an iPhone. This process was made possible by security researcher and reported high school student JJTech, who reportedly managed to ‘reverse engineer’ the iMessage protocol. Beeper took the work from JJTech (presumably with their permission) and then implemented it into their app.
The developer also created the Beeper Push Notification service, or BPNs for short, to maintain a constant connection to Apple servers and notify you of new texts.
That’s the essence of how it works. If you want more details, we highly recommend reading Beeper’s post along with JJTech’s iMessage overview to get the full picture.
Analysis: potential problems
Now you might be wondering: is Apple okay with this? It’s hard to say. Things are a little weird right now.
Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Beeper, told us TechCrunch a provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that “reverse engineering for the purposes of interoperability is protected,” implying that the law protects them from lawsuits.
This hasn’t stopped Apple from suing other companies that use their services. Now, however, we have the Digital Markets Act, which forces tech companies to support the interoperability of their messaging platforms. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice is going after industry titans for alleged antitrust violations. At the moment it is going after Google.
Apple could let the Beeper Mini slip by to stay in the good graces of the DOJ. But it’s hard to say for sure. We are in uncharted territory here. Apple can take the app down at any time with the power of a thousand suns. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.
Check out Ny Breaking’s list of the best Android phones for 2023.