The faceoff between Apple and Beeper has entered another round. Days after Apple managed to block Beeper Mini from seamlessly sending and receiving iMessages on Android, Beeper says the app is up and running again — sort of.
See, Beeper Mini works a little differently this time: you must now sign in with an Apple ID, whereas previously it would automatically register you to iMessage via your phone number. Beeper says it’s working on a fix to restore phone number registration with iMessage, but until then, your friends won’t be able to send iMessages directly to your phone number. Instead, the blue bubbles will have to come to and from your email address. That’s not nearly as convenient, but at the end of the day, it’s still iMessage.
Another change is that for now, owing to what could escalate into a cat-and-mouse game with Apple, Beeper Mini will be free to use. “Things have been a bit chaotic, and we’re not comfortable subjecting paying users to this,” the company wrote in a blog post today about the update. The app originally required a $2-per-month subscription. Apple’s statement on Friday made clear that it won’t hesitate to shut down further attempts to dupe its servers into believing Android phones are genuine Apple devices.
Beeper is also responding to Apple’s initial statement that its app, which is based on a reverse engineering of the iMessage protocol, comes with potential risks to user privacy and security. “We deeply object to the allegation,” the company wrote, and it’s willing to share Beeper Mini’s entire codebase “with a mutually agreed upon third-party security research firm” to analyze the app for any issues.
Of course, that isn’t really Apple’s problem: iMessage is a service Apple operates, and it’s a key lock-in mechanism and value add for iPhones and the company’s other hardware. Beeper’s security isn’t Apple’s concern, but iMessage’s very much is. That said, Apple’s effort to block Beeper Mini has already drawn the attention of US politicians and reignited calls for the company to release an official, authorized iMessage app for Android.