U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is throwing her weight behind Beeper, the app that allowed Android users to message iPhone users via iMessage, until Apple shut it down. Warren, an advocate for stricter antitrust enforcement, posted her support for Beeper on X (formerly Twitter) and questioned why Apple would restrict a competitor. The post indicates Apple’s move has now caught the attention of legislators, who are in a position to regulate Big Tech through policymaking.
“Green bubble texts are less secure. So why would Apple block a new app allowing Android users to chat with iPhone users on iMessage?,” Warren’s post read, citing The Verge’s report noting that Apple had blocked Beeper from operating, as TechCrunch also reported. “Big Tech executives are protecting profits by squashing competitors. Chatting between different platforms should be easy and secure,” she said.
Apple on Friday had taken action against Beeper, a startup that had reverse engineered the iMessage protocol to allow Android users to have blue bubble conversations with Apple device owners on iMessage.
In explaining its decision to cut off Beeper’s access to its servers, Apple said that it took “steps to steps to protect our users by blocking techniques that exploit fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage.” It also suggested that Beeper’s techniques “posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam, and phishing attacks.”
In addition, Cupertino-based tech giant argued against Beeper’s security, saying it was not able to verify that messages sent through unauthorized means were able to maintain the end-to-end encryption iMessage offers.
Beeper, however, claims it was able to offer the same level of encryption as iMessage uses, but did not put its app through a third-party security audit prior to its launch, which would have strengthened its argument.
Over the weekend, Beeper’s team has been working to enable its app, Beeper Mini, to continue to operate. As of its most recent update on Sunday, the startup posted that work continues on the outage and it hopes to “have good news to share soon.”
Founded a few years ago by Pebble smartwatch founder, now Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky, Beeper had employed a technical solution discovered by a teenager that involved reverse engineering the iMessage protocol. Prior to this, Beeper had been developing a broader solution that aggregated all users’ chat apps into a single interface — a software solution that’s since been renamed Beeper Cloud. Beeper Mini, then, became an app that focused solely on bringing iMessage to Android for $1.99/month, with the intention of expanding its capabilities over time.
But before Beeper Mini had a chance to get off the ground, Apple put it out of operation. It’s unclear what, if any, future Beeper Mini may now have, given that Apple has figured out how to identify Beeper users.