Technology Beeper vs. iMessage is a fight about how tech works

vtqhtr413

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Sometimes there’s the world you wish existed and then there’s the world as it is.
Over the last week, Apple and the messaging app Beeper have been locked in a battle for users’ souls and security. The bones of the story are this: Beeper released a new app, Beeper Mini, that cleverly made use of Apple’s iMessage protocols to allow you to send blue-bubble, encrypted messages from an Android phone. Apple swiftly shut it down. Beeper spent a few days getting a somewhat less impressive version of Beeper Mini running again. It probably won’t last.

What’s odd about this story is that you have two sides completely at odds, both saying entirely correct things. Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky has been telling anyone who will listen that SMS is insecure, that Apple is doing its users a disservice by requiring them to use such old and crummy tech to communicate with the vast majority of the world’s smartphone users, and that Beeper’s solution is both a better user experience and a better privacy solution. It’s all true: if you start from the premise that anything is better than SMS, which is a pretty reasonable premise for a lot of reasons, the Beeper way is a good one.

But here’s another way to look at it, which I suspect is the way Apple sees the situation: Who the hell is Beeper?
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ZeroDay

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With Apple adopting RCS messaging next year I don't understand why they don't just create iMessage for Android too. They could even charge for it if they wanted. Here in the UK everyone just uses WhatsApp anyway. I think iMessage is only a big deal in the US.
 

mlnevese

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With Apple adopting RCS messaging next year I don't understand why they don't just create iMessage for Android too. They could even charge for it if they wanted. Here in the UK everyone just uses WhatsApp anyway. I think iMessage is only a big deal in the US.
I've seen all kinds of justifications from Americans on why they don't use WhatsApp or any other messenger. Best one is that they don't trust Meta :)
 

SpiderWeb

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I refuse to agree with this argument. Beeper, from Apple's point of view is:
1. In complete violation of iMessage terms of service AND
2. Turning a security vulnerability into a business model

which is insane and honestly warrants a full lawsuit. Beeper is not an app, it is an APT. I feel like has anyone in the media even considered that Beeper is not actively breaching and trying to find new exploits in Apple's secure end-to-end encrypted messaging service and doing so in order to rid off Apple's messaging servers for free? And then having the nerve to charge their users money for that hackjob, not even reimbursing Apple for their infrastructure? Imagine if Google or Meta did what Beeper was doing, IMAGINE if the government was doing what Beeper was doing. We would clearly and correctly label it a privacy breach, there would be an outcry. You are accessing iMessage from an unsecured app on an unsecured device that has not the security and privacy safeguards in place that an iPhone does. And if Beeper can do so, that means anyone who wants to spoof a number and pretend to be a secure Apple contact can do so too. The vulnerability had to be closed. It was Apple's duty and responsibility to everyone who is using iMessage.

RCS for iMessage will hopefully introduce all the interoperability that Android users desire without having to go through such intrusive lengths.
 

vtqhtr413

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Following a tumultuous few weeks for Beeper, which has been trying to provide an iMessage-compatible Android app, a group of US lawmakers are pushing for the DOJ to investigate Apple for “potentially anticompetitive conduct” over its attempts to disable Beeper’s services. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) as well as Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ken Buck (R-CO) said in a letter to the DOJ that Beeper’s Android messaging app, Beeper Mini, was a threat to Apple’s leverage by “creating [a] more competitive mobile applications market, which in turn [creates] a more competitive mobile device market.”
 

vtqhtr413

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The ongoing cat-and-mouse game between Apple and Beeper, the company whose Beeper Mini app it blocked from accessing iMessage servers, continues to cause a stir. While there is an ongoing discussion surrounding whether Apple should be allowed to prevent Beeper from piggybacking off its iMessage service, it now appears that two groups of U.S. lawmakers are starting to take an interest in what's going on.

According to a report, both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are starting to take notice, with there being concerns over Apple's motives for the move to block Beeper Mini. The company says that Beeper Mini poses a security threat, potentially affecting the privacy of people who use the iMessage service. But others aren't so sure.
 

Ink

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Beeper Mini intentionally removed from the Play Store
As a result of this, Beeper Mini has been removed from the Google Play Store. Beeper Cloud remains available, and Mini is still available for sideloading for those who wish to use it. Beeper Cloud also now lists iMessage integration as a “Labs” feature.

In that same announcement, Beeper’s Eric Migicovsky once again updated users on the company’s forward roadmap. This includes that the company is currently working to port its other chat app services from Cloud to Mini, and is also working on a “big performance boost” to its desktop app.
 

vtqhtr413

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Beeper, the upstart messaging app that attempts to corral all your messaging services into one inbox, is being acquired by Automattic, the giant that runs Wordpress.com, Tumblr, and a number of other hugely popular web properties. The deal closed last week and was announced officially on Tuesday. Along with the announcement, Beeper is also opening up its app to everyone for the first time across platforms, shutting down its waitlist for good.

There’s a fascinating backstory here on all sides of this acquisition. For Beeper, it comes a couple of months after Beeper launched a new app called Beeper Mini that found a way to let Android users tap into the iMessage protocol and become blue bubbles in the Messages app. Apple didn’t like that; the two sides played a cat-and-mouse game for a while, and eventually, Beeper just gave up. (Now that fight is prominently featured in the antitrust complaint against Apple.)
 
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