Sunbird wants to bring iMessage to Android, and it sounds too good to be true

What iMessage might look like on a Google Pixel 6a
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Sunbird is a new messaging app for Android devices.
  • It is an alternative platform that allows Android users to chat with Apple users via iMessage.
  • The aim is to bring all the useful features of Apple’s iMessage to Android folks.
  • The app is currently in closed beta testing.

A new app is making waves for its lofty goal of bringing iMessage to Android. It wouldn't be the first, with apps like Beeper aiming to serve as a universal messaging app for Android. And now, Sunbird is taking its own approach to bringing the two messaging services together using its own software trickery.

While Beeper required an Apple device like a Mac, for example, during the setup process to establish a server that allowed users to chat with Apple iMessage users, Sunbird claims it does not require any such methods. Apparently, an Android device seems to suffice as the only device you need for the onboarding process. However, users might need to have an iCloud account.

Sunbird proudly claims it to be a hassle-free process that takes around 60 seconds to set up.

While Google relentlessly keeps challenging Apple on integrating RCS messaging into iMessage, alternatives are coming up to achieve a similar goal. The goal here is primarily between green vs. blue bubbles, i.e., Google Messages versus Apple’s iMessage, which also means bringing both folks across platforms to have a common messaging platform.

Folks at Android Authority got a chance to test the early access of the app last week, and the company showed off how it works in a demo. However, in their initial testing, the setup process worked well as they could sign into their personal iCloud account via the Sunbird app. The app could not send iMessages to iPhone users, though multiple attempts reportedly failed as iPhone users failed to receive texts and photos sent through a Sunbird-connected account.

Later, AA guys got a loaned iCloud account (instead of using personal iCloud accounts) from Sunbird to test the feature, which is said to have worked well. The testing gave promising results, such as allowing users to connect to iCloud, send, and receive blue bubble texts to iPhone users.

The iPhone users on the receiving end are said to be able to react to the messages sent through Sunbird on Android. In addition, they could send media, create groups, share contacts’ cards (vCard), and iPhone users could reciprocate emoji reactions. The messages are also end-to-end encrypted, which is a nice touch for privacy.

Sunbird app working on Android phone

(Image credit: Android Authority)

The other features that are supposedly missing in the testing include the ability to react to a message sent from iPhone to Android (on the Sunbird app). Other prominent ones, like typing indicators and read receipts, apparently did not work, and in some cases, messages were not received on the iPhone altogether.

The AA report says the app is still in the early phase, so there could be room for improvement.

If you want to give it a try, you'll have to sign up to test the app as part of a closed beta, and there appears to be a waitlist.

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.