While Google and Apple battle over text messaging standards, Nothing is working on a secret weapon designed to finally solve the ridiculous messaging problems faced by US users in particular.
The Nothing Chats app, which will be released exclusively for the Nothing Phone (2) on 17 November on the Google Play Store, attempts to bridge the gap between the world’s two most popular mobile operating systems, Android and iOS. The Nothing Chats app is created by Sunbird, which back in December last year figured out how to bring iMessage’s “blue bubble” feature to Android phones.
Nothing CEO Carl Pei said, “There’s nothing illegal about this venture. I think everything we do will be taken to Cupertino, but we are so small that it will look very bad if Apple takes any action.” Sunbird CEO Danny Mizrahi added: “We don’t see a scenario in which Apple would or could try to block these messages. Apple has always been focused on providing the best possible experience for its end users, and both Nothing Chats and Sunbird help with that.”
Sunbird has long claimed to be able to send iMessage from Android, but it has missed all launch deadlines and generally doesn’t give the impression of being a serious organisation. How does Sunbird work? From what the company has revealed, it appears to have taken the Beeper method – connecting an Android phone to Apple’s virtual devices – and taken a few extra steps. Firstly, each individual user doesn’t need their own connected hardware. Sunbird has figured out a way to allow thousands of users to connect to the same machine. Second, the company has also found a way to keep end-to-end encryption, something companies like Beeper can’t provide (at least not yet). Again, Sunbird hasn’t disclosed exactly how it does this.
How does Sunbird work? Why should people trust Sunbird with their super-important Apple account credentials, which hold their entire online life and, in some cases, literally their money? How secure are these credentials? Are they stored somewhere on Sunbird’s servers? Doesn’t hacking iMessage with a third-party client violate Apple’s terms of service, which could result in account lockout? Wouldn’t Apple shut down the programme as soon as it launched? All of these important and obvious questions have been asked and all of them remain unanswered. Given how poorly Sunbird explains its actions, Apple has a strong argument for shutting down the entire project in the name of security.
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