Beeper mini. iMessage on Android

Has anyone here installed beeper mini which just launched?

Unlike other implementations this one doesn’t require a server in the middle nor signing in with an apple id. It also registers your phone number with iMessage vs an email. It supposedly keeps iMessage encryption in place but who knows how secure it really is but SMS/MMS isn’t secure anyway so I’m willing to give it a go since most of my contacts are iPhone users.

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The fine folks at Beeper made me aware of Beeper Mini yesterday via email. I haven’t yet decided whether to try it. I’m still digesting their deep dive here:

Presuming I’m satisfied regarding privacy, I may try it out. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing with the original Beeper (rebranded Beeper Cloud) off and on for a while but not for iMessage. I’m not entirely comfortable sharing Apple ID credentials with Beeper. Mostly, I’ve been evaluating Beeper Cloud as a possible Republic Anywhere replacement.

I’ve also played with AirMessage. Like Beeper, AirMessage requires a Mac server in the middle but the AirMessage server runs on my local Mac rather than someone else’s Mac in the cloud. It is possible to run a Beeper server locally, so I may try that also.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Apple chooses to do about Beeper Mini. Apple is under some pressure to open up iMessage from the EU. That said, historically, Apple isn’t happy when someone else reverse engineers its proprietary protocols.

As I understand it, Beeper Mini is relying on the reverse engineering powering the proof of concept here:

I’m not comfortable sharing my apple id with beeper or any similar service but with beeper mini not needing my apple id to function I’m willing to give it a try.

Can’t say this is an unexpected development:

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I’m not surprised either. Oh well I’m still not buying an iPhone.

Beeper Mini is apparently fixed albeit lacking the ability to register one’s phone number for iMessage. So, you’ll need to be willing to trust Beeper with your Apple ID and iMessages will be delivered to/from the email address associated with your Apple ID.

I’m not jumping on the Beeper bandwagon. It’s likely Apple will respond again. In a cat and mouse game, Apple has a lot more resources than Beeper including legal resources. Beeper feels the law is on its side and, in terms of reverse engineering the iMessage protocol, they may well be correct. Nevertheless, accessing Apple’s iMessage infrastructure without Apple’s permission and without paying Apple for the privilege is legally (and morally in my opinion) questionable. There’s also the reality, Beeper would be hard pressed to afford a legal fight with a trillion dollar company.

For now, Beeper has decided not to charge its $2/month subscription fee. For all Beeper’s talk about wanting to improve the security of cross-platform Android/iOS messaging, profit is Beeper’s bottom line as it is for other companies.

Bottom line; if Apple wanted to release an iMessage client for Android, it could easily do so itself. It doesn’t need Beeper’s help. While I would prefer Apple do so, that’s Apple’s decision to make.

Beeper mini worked well with my phone number for 2 days until Apple shut it down. I’m not interested in using my apple ID email for messaging nor do I want to provide that login info to a third party. Beeper has gotten a lot of press attention over this so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

It appears this saga is over with Beeper, more or less, throwing in the towel:

Beeper is offering a solution, of sorts, if one owns an appropriate Apple product or otherwise has access to a Mac. It’s unclear, to me, bothering with it would be worthwhile as there are already alternatives providing similar functionality with similar caveats:

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It’s been interesting to see all this fuss over what is essentially a US (and to a lesser degree, Canada) “problem”. In most of the rest of the world, SMS is defunct apart from poorly-implemented 2FA systems and government notifications. Manufacturer-specific apps like iMessage and Google messages are non-starters.

Outside of North America, the various continents each have a third-party chat app that dominates the non-voice communication function. In the EU, WhatsApp is the only general messaging app to use if you want to reach most people. China has WeChat, other major country groups have a dominant apps as well, though I can’t remember what they are all called.

iMessage is only a thing in the US because it was launched to side-step messaging charges a little before the US became the first market to really abandon per-message charges in the SMS/MMS space. Many other markets continued with per-message charging, which gave Internet-based messaging apps traction that was no longer needed in the US. Even at that, while the per-message charges were what launched iMessage, (the original purpose of the green bubble was to alert you that the message was likely costing you money) if the charges had continued it is likely that a third-party app such as WhatsApp would have driven it off the market by eliminating message charges to Android and other smartphone types. This was a case of timing saving what would have otherwise been just another failed manufacturer-specific app, as most people would prefer one app to use for everybody.

If you trade phone numbers with someone from outside North America, make a point of asking about the dominant messaging app for their area, as that will likely be the only free way to talk/message them. While the US market is one of the better ones in terms of international calling and messaging to some markets, the reverse is less likely to be true. While most US cellular plans and even some landline plans include free calling/messaging TO Canada, the Canadians usually have to pay extra for that. So if trading numbers with a Canadian, ask the question, if they have such an app at all, the answer will probably be WhatsApp.

I never understood why, as an Android user, I should care about iMessage. I do just fine communicating with iPhone users with my Messages by Google app. Since Apple has announced they’re going to implement RCS, I feel I have even less incentive to care about iMessage.

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I’m only interested to the degree that any fight has entertainment value. SMS works for such messages as I have to send. My major concern would be message encryption, and that goes straight to third-party apps. For me, iMessage is not a concern.