Beeper Mini, the recently launched service bringing iMessage to Android phones, suffered a major outage today. The app displays error messages when trying to send texts, indicating messages are failing to deliver.
According to Beeper’s CEO Eric Migicovsky, “all data indicates” that Apple intentionally blocked Beeper Mini by cutting off its access. This likely means Apple found a way to determine Beeper texts were coming from Android devices instead of iPhones.
For background, Beeper Mini worked by essentially fooling Apple’s servers into thinking texts originated from iPhones. This allowed Android users to finally participate in blue bubble iMessage chats just like iPhone owners.
Beeper charged only $1.99 per month for this clever workaround. The app quickly gained popularity among Android users tired of being excluded and left out of group texts. However, Apple has strategic reasons for not opening up iMessage more widely across platforms.
Migicovsky believes Apple shutting down Beeper Mini negatively impacts iPhone users’ privacy and security. When messaging Android phones, iPhones revert to unencrypted SMS texts that many parties can intercept. Beeper’s technology enabled fully encrypted iMessage chats with Android.
It’s unclear if Beeper can overcome Apple’s latest blocking efforts. For now the outage persists with no known fix available. This may force Android users back into unencrypted green bubble purgatory unless Apple chooses to restore Beeper’s access.
The news caps a rollercoaster week for Beeper and Apple’s messaging ecosystem. Earlier, Apple won an exemption from new EU interoperability rules that would have forced opening iMessage to third parties. Apple successfully argued iMessage lacks enough business use to mandate cross-platform access.
This exemption gives Apple full discretion to restrict iMessage as it sees fit. Targeting innovative workarounds like Beeper Mini seems directly at odds with Apple’s claims of caring deeply about user privacy. But the company shows no signs of voluntarily bridging the growing gap between blue and green bubble worlds.
In the end, Apple holds all the cards around granting iMessage access on its own terms. Beeper Mini offered a glimpse at how seamless and secure cross-platform messaging could be. Sadly for many Android users, that glimpse may have just come to an abrupt end thanks to Apple’s tight grip on iMessage.