Beyond the Alphabet is a weekly column that focuses on the tech world both inside and out of the confines of Mountain View.
In addition to the world of AI chatbots, another topic I've been keeping a close eye on recently is being able to use iMessage on Android. It's not, and hasn't been, impossible to do, but it has required a lot of time and patience, waiting for an invite or not feeling comfortable with the apps available.
I'm not going to go back down the rabbit hole in regards to Sunbird and Nothing, as I've already written enough about it. However, Beeper made a surprise announcement this week, introducing Beeper Mini as a new way to use iMessage on Android.
Until recently, I had already been using Beeper but had a few issues that resulted in me just grabbing my iPhone whenever someone sent me an iMessage. That's now all changed, as Beeper Mini seems to solve the problems I had in a way that I didn't think was possible.
Beeper Mini can succeed where the rest have failed
Naturally, the old brain tank started churning as soon as Beeper Mini was released, and the "nerd" side of me downloaded the app faster than you can say "RCS." It wasn't until I took a step back that I started wondering (and worrying) if this was going to end up with the same fate as Sunbird.
After reaching out to Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky, he was gracious enough to give me a bit of perspective. Namely, he states that he likes "to think that we are several magnitudes better than all competitors." He then pointed me to a blog post titled "How Beeper Mini Works," which provides more insight into the technical aspects, something that Nothing and Sunbird should have probably done.
Instead of relying on server racks full of Macs that you can't physically access, everything is handled directly by Apple's own "end-to-end encryption protocol." That includes keeping all of your messages end-to-end encrypted, regardless of whether you use your Apple ID or not.
This led me to wonder about a potential response from Apple, especially considering that Nothing seemed to want to take credit for the RCS to iOS announcement. When asked whether Beeper was concerned that Apple might patch the exploit in the future, Migicovsky opened my eyes with his response. "It's not really an exploit. Beeper Mini connects to iMessage the same that an iPhone does."
So basically, one of the dream scenarios has come true for Android users. You can essentially turn your Android phone into an iPhone, at least when it comes to the color of your bubbles.
In the same vein, some might view the news of Beeper Mini being released and scoff at the idea. Apple already announced RCS is coming, so why waste the time, money, and resources to solve a problem that will be solved next year? Migicovsky's answer couldn't be more succinct: "RCS is great! Beeper [Cloud] already supports RCS, so as soon as Apple supports it we'll seamlessly transition to it."
An unnecessary and tired trope
The bigger problem that Beeper Mini aims to solve is the stigma surrounding the "green bubble vs. blue bubble" debate. I touched on it previously, but it's a genuine issue that causes problems in the United States, bordering on elitism. More importantly, there are many instances where friends are "left on read" or just completely ignored all because of the phone that they use.
For some, it simply comes down to not being able to afford an iPhone, whether it's a child in school or an adult who just needs a phone to communicate. There are enough problems in the world to the point that nobody should have to worry about being the source of a meme or another Drake song.
Beeper Mini solves that problem without jumping through any hoops or using any phone other than the one that's in your pocket. For those who are questioning whether the $24 per year cost is worth it, that's not for you, me, or anyone else to decide. If there's value in the cost, then it's worth every penny (within reason).
Why do I care so much about iMessage on Android?
You might be asking yourself, "Why does he care so much if he already has an iPhone?" That's a very valid question, and it's honestly a pretty simple answer. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't carry two phones with me, as my primary SIM resides in my iPhone, and I have a secondary SIM for whatever Android phone I'm using that day.
Thanks to Apple's decision to go eSIM-only, changing phones isn't as simple as popping my SIM out and throwing it into something else. It also doesn't help that despite both Android and iOS supporting the ability to transfer eSIMs, it's such a headache that I've given up on trying to do so.
However, even if I were to only use an Android phone, there are downsides to doing so. Namely, pretty much my entire family has transitioned to the iPhone. So, there are features offered by iOS that simply don't work as well if you throw an Android phone into the mix.
A great example of this is when my wife and I were on a family trip, with everyone there using an iPhone. When it came time to figure out what we all wanted for take-out, my Uncle simply created a shared note, and we could all fill out what we wanted.
Not to mention the Shared Photos Album feature that makes it so you can take pictures and have them saved directly to a shared album. It just removes the headache of trying to get everyone to use an alternative like Google Photos.
These are situations and scenarios where it doesn't even matter that Apple is bringing RCS support to the iPhone. Sure, it'll definitely make for a better experience if I ditch the iPhone for good, and I want to be able to send photos and videos that don't look like they were taken with a potato. But that's pretty much it, at least for my needs.
With something like Beeper Mini, I'm able to leave my iPhone in another room while still being able to receive and respond to any iMessage that may arrive. Does it really matter? No, it's a niche problem for an even smaller niche group of people who carry multiple phones and don't always want to reach for one when they're using another.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
And he definitely isn't biased.Reply
Nah, I like my green bubble just fine ... Let them iPhone users know that I ain't one of themReply
I see no issue here whatsoever! I can text with iPhone users and they can text with me, an Android user! I think people are overly obsessed with ridiculously stupid, and idiotic issues that amount to absolutely NOTHING! If the issue is encryption then use Whatsapp or something more secure! iD|0tSReply
Who would actually pay a monthly fee just to have a blue bubble???!!! So glad I no longer live in the states.. here in South America everyone uses WhatsApp... EasypeasyReply
Not me, they should just buy Android.DigitalKnight said:Who would actually pay a monthly fee just to have a blue bubble???!!! So glad I no longer live in the states.. here in South America everyone uses WhatsApp... Easypeasy
There's really more to it than just green versus blue... Once it's fully integrated properly it will make cross platform quality of text and video sharing better than normal texting right now.. I've been using it for a few days and it's been solid with its initial release ...Reply
I stand by my postBkdodger1 said:There's really more to it than just green versus blue... Once it's fully integrated properly it will make cross platform quality of text and video sharing better than normal texting right now.. I've been using it for a few days and it's been solid with its initial release ...
How do I know you are standing ? Lolrvbfan said:I stand by my post
Google might know.Bkdodger1 said:How do I know you are standing ? Lol
Hey Google! Who is rvbfan? Is he currently standing?rvbfan said:Google might know.
rvbfan is currently a member of Android Central ... you can find more information about him here ____ I'm unable to determine his standing or sitting status.