Beeper Mini, the chat app that reverse-engineered Apple’s iMessage for Android, is having problems. 9to5Google reported Friday the entire Beeper platform is seemingly broken right now, leading to the obvious speculation that Apple has stomped on the bootleg iMessage workaround. Beeper posted on X that it’s “investigating reports that sending/receiving is not working in Beeper Mini.”
Engadget contacted Beeper co-founder Eric Migicovsky by email to ask whether the outage could have been triggered on Apple’s end, and he suggested it’s possible. “We had overwhelming interest and excitement in Beeper Mini this week!” Migicovsky wrote to Engadget. “As I tweeted, Beeper Mini is experiencing an outage — sending and receiving is not working right now.”
“If it's Apple, then I think the biggest question is — if Apple truly cares about the privacy and security of their own iPhone users, why would they try to kill a service that enables iPhones to send encrypted chats to Android users?” the founder and former Pebble CEO wrote to Engadget. “With their announcement of RCS support, it's clear that Apple knows they have a gaping hole here. Beeper Mini is here today and works great. Why force iPhone users back to sending unencrypted SMS when they chat with friends on Android?”
Investigating reports that sending/receiving is not working in Beeper Mini 🔎
— Beeper (@onbeeper) December 8, 2023
Beeper’s crafty solution — surprisingly — seemed to work well. The app automatically scans for messages from iMessage users and changes them to blue bubbles, apparently routing them through Apple’s servers. The wizardry is the product of a 16-year-old high school student, who reverse-engineered it by jailbreaking iPhones and digging into them to learn how iOS handles iMessages. It even included end-to-end encryption between iPhones and Android phones.
Migicovsky described the service to Engadget’s Richard Lai earlier this week as a “scale-up.” The original (pre-mini) Beeper depended on a Mac mini server farm to relay chats through Apple’s system. Whether Beeper Mini is going the way of the dodo (or the Sunbird), we’ll have to wait and see.
Update, December 8, 2023, 4:59 PM ET: This story has been updated to include a comment Migicovsky made to Engadget.