Beeper Mini has returned to operation on Monday as a free iMessage-texting app on Android, but with a number of tweaks following the service's disconnection from Apple's messaging service late last week.
In addition to being free, Beeper announced in its blog post that the service now requires an Apple ID to function. Beeper doesn't store Apple ID credentials, but you still need to provide your Apple ID and password to sign up for the service, as with other third-party iMessage apps like Beeper's original app -- now named Beeper Cloud -- and the short-lived Nothing Chats. That means trusting Beeper with the credentials needed to access the App Store and other Apple services. Apple on Saturday said it had blocked iMessage from services trying to provide workarounds like these over security concerns.
Since you can't register a phone number with Beeper, texts can only be sent from the email address associated with an Apple ID. This is similar to using iMessage from a Mac or an iPad. An iPhone-using contact may want to save your Apple ID email address in order to display texts in the same manner as those that came from your phone number.
Beeper co-founder Eric Migicovsky said in the blog post that the service will remain free until it can stabilize, at which time it will be $2 per month and meant to eventually incorporate other chat services. Users who previously signed up for the subscription can access the service for free or choose to donate the subscription cost to Beeper.
"Things have been a bit chaotic, and we're not comfortable subjecting paying users to this. As soon as things stabilize (we hope they will), we'll look at turning on subscriptions again," Migicovksy said in the blog post.
Following Apple taking action to block Beeper Mini's initial launch, Migicovsky said his company is willing to share the app's codebase with a mutually agreed upon third-party security firm. Apple did not immediately respond to comment on this story, but on Saturday issued a statement that the company took measures to block apps that gain access to iMessage.
"At Apple, we build our products and services with industry-leading privacy and security technologies designed to give users control of their data and keep personal information safe," Apple said in a statement provided to CNET. "We took steps to protect our users by blocking techniques that exploit fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage."
Beeper Mini's launch last week came weeks after Nothing briefly launched Nothing Chats -- its own iMessage for Android app that made use of remote Mac computers in order to relay messages. The app was exclusively available for the $599 Nothing Phone 2. Nothing Chats however, backed by Sunbird, was quickly shut down following privacy concerns levied against Sunbird. Sunbird's own iMessage-sending app was available in a closed alpha, with plans to widely release on Android phones. But Sunbird's app also has since shut down following those privacy concerns.
These iMessage for Android services have also seen an uptick in attention following Apple's announcement that the company will support the RCS texting standard at some point in 2024. RCS has the capability of supporting many of the features that iMessage has popularized -- like typing indicators, read receipts and the sending of high-quality photos -- across both the iPhone and Android devices. While Apple has not revealed the extent that it will support RCS, the company has said the standard will offer a better "interoperability experience when compared to SMS or MMS."