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Beeper releases final attempt at bringing iMessage to Android

Beeper in December announced Beeper Mini, a standalone app that brought Apple’s iMessage service to Android phones, complete with phone number registration.

Beeper Mini established a direct connection to Apple’s servers, treating your Android phone as an iPhone, and that, according to Beeper, meant your chats were end-to-end encrypted. The launch of Beeper Mini came at a time when there’s been a lot of news about iMessage on Android, and even Apple announcing RCS support is coming to the iPhone next year.


Beeper Mini is sending iMessages again, but how long will it last?

It’s beat Apple’s blockade – this time for free. But who knows how long this tit for tat over Android devices sending blue-bubble messages will last.

However, since Beeper Mini released earlier this month, we’ve seen Apple close loopholes to keep the service from working, but Beeper has followed up by releasing workaround updates. In late December, Beeper published its final attempt at bringing iMessage to Android, along with a blog post stating that if Apple figures out a way to prevent this method from working, the company is done with the cat-and-mouse game. Apple wins. The latest workaround? Buy an iPhone. No, really.

beeper mini privacyHow Beeper Mini was originally intended to work

  • Beeper reverse-engineered the iMessage protocol for Android.
  • Established a direct connection to Apple’s servers for iMessage on Android devices.

Beeper published a blog post that detailed how Beeper Mini originally worked and is different from Beeper Cloud (and Sunbird, for that matter). The company worked with a security researcher who reverse-engineered the iMessage protocol, on-device encryption keys included, and replicated that same connection on an Android phone. In theory, that meant after you’d set up Beeper Mini on your Android device, it’d have a direct connection to Apple’s servers for sending and receiving iMessages the same way an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch does.

Beeper got pretty nerdy about it in the blog post, but the TL;DR version is this: You no longer had to log into a Mac on a random server that you have no control over to connect to and use Apple’s iMessage service on an Android phone.

How to set up and use Beeper Mini now

Old method

Originally, after installing Beeper Mini from the Play Store, you’d be walked through the setup process, which consisted of registering your phone number with Apple’s iMessage service and then connecting your Apple ID to Beeper Mini. The latter part was optional and only something you needed to do if you wanted to access your iMessage conversations on another Apple device or use your email address to send and receive messages.

Yes, that meant you could use iMessage without signing in to your Apple ID. From my understanding, Beeper Mini did this by sending a text message from your Android phone to Apple’s servers to register your number with iMessage, using the same method Apple uses to register your phone number on an iPhone. After the initial setup, Beeper Mini would analyze all of your existing conversations in your phone’s default messaging app, then import and convert any eligible conversations into an iMessage thread in the Beeper Mini app. That included any group conversations.

Once that was done, you’d be taken to the app’s main screen, which was sparse, but supported typing indicators, read receipts, full-resolution photos and videos, reactions, voice messages, as well as editing and unsending a message. In the short time I had to test it out, it mostly worked just like iMessage on an iPhone. I was able to send a minute-long video in full resolution, a voice memo, unsend a message, a few reactions and edit a message all without any issues. It was iMessage. On Android.

Latest method

As of Dec. 21, 2023, Beeper has a new workaround for Android users looking to have iMessage on their phone.

It figured out a way for Android users who buy an older iPhone and jailbreak it to run its software can keep their phone number registered with Apple’s iMessage service. Don’t have an old iPhone or are unsure where to buy one? You can rent one from Beeper, or buy one outright, starting next year. If you have a Mac, or know someone who does, you can use it to register your phone number with Apple’s iMessage service. Either device will need to be always on and connected to the internet for Apple’s period checks to ensure your phone number is registered.

You can read about the process on Beeper’s support website, but be forewarned, the current form of Beeper Mini isn’t even close to what Beeper originally promised, and what I outlined above.

using beeper mini

There are, of course, more caveats

Beeper Mini is far from perfect. Another aspect that’s sure to annoy users is it only displays your iMessage conversations. That means that your SMS/RCS conversations will remain in your default messaging app, which is likely Google Messages.

Beeper Mini only displays iMessage conversations, leaving SMS/RCS chats in your default messaging app.

So, instead of having a single app to keep tabs on your conversations, you’ll have to use two apps. It’s not ideal, but Beeper has said it’s working on integrating SMS/RCS into its Mini app, along with the rest of Beeper Cloud’s currently supported services.

Beeper Mini unlink phone number-1

A potentially more annoying issue is that, after setting up Beeper Mini, your Android phone’s phone number will be registered with Apple’s iMessage service. If you’ve ever made the switch from iPhone to Android, or know someone who has, you know how troublesome this can be when you’re ready to stop using iMessage. Or, in this case, Beeper Mini. To be clear, you can unregister your phone number from Beeper Mini and Apple’s servers in the app with just a few taps (select the Settings Gear > Manage Connection > tap Unlink and Sign out of Beeper).


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Should you try Beeper Mini?

Beeper isn’t shying away from the fact that the company reverse-engineered Apple’s iMessage service. It’s a fascinating plot twist in the growing effort by third parties to bring iMessage to Android, and it’s surely one that’s got Apple’s attention, along with the attention of security researchers. Beeper claims the connection is secure and encrypted, and has invited security researchers to look it over.

Deciding to try Beeper Mini comes down to a few key things.

If you’re really wanting to use iMessage on Android, Beeper Mini is an option, though it’s not without its complexities. It needs a jailbroken iPhone and a Mac or Linux computer, with the iPhone continuously plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi. This setup is obviously impractical for many. There are also security concerns with using a jailbroken iPhone and a third-party app.

Another thing to consider is whether the latest workaround will be around for a while, as Beeper doesn’t plan to find new fixes if Apple shuts this one down. This back and forth between Apple and Beeper has even prompted a group of politicians to ask the Department of Justice about launching an antitrust investigation, to see if Apple broke any laws by blocking Beeper’s access to iMessage.

The cost of an old iPhone is also something to consider. But if you’re dead-set on breaking down messaging app barriers and can handle these hurdles, Beeper Mini might be worth a shot.

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