Introducing iMessage on Android: Nothing’s Latest Endeavor

Nothing Phone 2 owners can now enjoy iMessage through a new “Nothing Chats” app, powered by the messaging platform Sunbird. The feature will be available to users in North America, the EU, and other European countries, starting this Friday, November 17th.

According to Nothing, the move is aimed at breaking down the barriers created by messaging services that divide phone users. However, users will need to trust Sunbird, the platform behind Nothing Chats. Nothing’s FAQ states that Sunbird’s architecture ensures message delivery without storing them at any point during their journey.

Marques Brownlee confirmed with Nothing that the iMessage-to-Android bridge service involves signing in on a server to facilitate message routing.

According to Nothing’s US head of PR, Jane Nho, Sunbird handles user iCloud credentials as a token in an encrypted database and uses Mac Minis in the US or Europe as a relay for iMessages sent via the app. Account information is deleted after two weeks of inactivity.

However, providing access to your iCloud account raises concerns about trust and privacy. It’s important to scrutinize Sunbird’s privacy policy and approach it with caution.

The Washington Post tested Nothing Chats and found that while it generally worked well, some features like message editing and Tapback reactions were not fully functional. In group messages, multiple attempts were sometimes needed to send messages successfully.

Group iMessages require all participants to be on iMessage, but Nothing Chats supports group SMS messaging. Users can expect features like typing indicators, uncompressed media sharing, and future additions like read receipts and message reactions.

Access to Sunbird is currently limited to Nothing Phone 2 users, as confirmed by Sunbird CEO, Danny Mizrahi. Beeper, a similar service, also has a lengthy waitlist for accessing iMessage on Android and Windows devices.

Nothing is set to debut a new feature on Friday, despite the possibility of legal or technical intervention from Apple. Carl Pei, CEO of Nothing, believes the app will spark conversations, although he doubts it will “change the world.” The EU is investigating whether iMessage should be considered an Apple “core platform service.”

We have contacted Apple for their response to Nothing’s plans and will provide an update once we receive a comment from Apple.

Update November 14th, 2023, 11:35AM ET: Added details from MKBHD.

Update November 14th, 2023, 12:10PM ET: Added details from Nothing US head of PR, Jane Nho.

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