I’m in a bunch chat with my spouse’s household: her sisters, their husbands, her dad and mom, and so forth. One among them simply despatched a video of their younger child and it regarded like a blocky, blurry catastrophe as a result of it had been recompressed to a tiny dimension to suit into the service MMS restrict. Half of the messages within the chat are textual content descriptions of reactions: “[person] Liked a picture.” And it’s all as a result of only one or two of the individuals in that group chat have an Android telephone.
In a lot of the world, this appears loopy. Why aren’t all of us on WhatsApp? However in North America and a few elements of Western Europe, that is every day life. It’s annoying, to say the least, and Apple has no intention of doing something about it.
Enter Nothing, the comparatively younger Android smartphone firm that’s the second act of OnePlus founder Carl Pei. The Nothing Cellphone (2) was simply launched a number of months in the past within the U.S. for the primary time, and now the corporate has introduced Nothing Chats, an app that may allow you to use iMessage options on that telephone. Sort of. You’ll need to learn the advantageous print.
Replace 11/19/23: It seems that Sunbird, the service upon which Nothing Chats relies, is a safety catastrophe. It has been discovered to be sending messages in plain textual content, storing tons of of hundreds of media recordsdata by way of Firebase, and that each one this, together with buyer contacts, are pretty simply accessible. Nothing has pulled Nothing Chats from the Google Play retailer whereas it “works with Sunbird to repair a number of bugs.”
Nothing Chats is in-built partnership with Sunbird, an organization that makes a unified messaging app that’s at the moment nonetheless in invite-only beta. In accordance with early testers, Nothing Chat is principally a re-skin of the Sunbird app, and Sunbird handles all of the know-how behind the scenes.
Right here’s the way it works: You check in to the Nothing Chat together with your Nothing account, and you then connect your Apple ID. If you happen to don’t have any Apple services or products, you’ll be able to nonetheless create an Apple ID at no cost. That login data is transferred to Sunbird’s Mac servers the place it’s used to intercept iMessages and ship them to your Nothing Chat app (or the Sunbird app, when it’s launched).
Not all the pieces works simply but. The issues that work at the moment are:
Single and group messaging
Coming quickly are:
Tapback reactions and message replies
That listing isn’t complete (there’s no message enhancing, for instance), however it covers a very powerful stuff, primarily the irritating “somebody in right here is messing it up for all of us” annoyances. Nothing customers could have blue bubbles, and iPhone customers shall be none the wiser.
In fact, there are privateness issues with a platform like this. Sunbird and Nothing insist that they don’t save any information, and all messages are encrypted between their server and yours. However they do run a server that logs into your Apple ID, in order that they have entry to it (not the username and password, simply the login token). They may, in principle, entry something related together with your Apple ID. That appears unlikely, however it opens up the potential for your Apple ID being compromised if somebody hacks Sunbird’s servers. Logging your Apple ID into another person’s pc is at all times going to be a safety threat.
As anticipated, a number of researchers and journalists have found that Sunbird’s service, opposite to its claims, does ship messages in unencrypted plain textual content. And whereas it doesn’t retailer consumer information because it claims, it shops all despatched media recordsdata in Firebase (a Google internet database platform). These are simply accessed, together with contact playing cards which usually include telephone numbers and addresses. Nothing has pulled Nothing Chats from the Google Play Retailer and delayed its launch whereas it really works with Sunbird.
If it comes again, there’s the “what is going to Apple do?” issue. It’s unclear what the corporate’s response to this shall be. It’s a transfer that appears nearly designed to impress a lawsuit to get the iMessage lock-in difficulty into the courts once more. Nothing is a sufficiently small model the place Apple won’t reply in any respect, however it opens the door to Samsung or Google hanging an identical partnership with Sunbird.
When it resurfaces, Nothing Chats shall be out there as a beta to anybody with a Nothing Cellphone (2), which is a reasonably small group total, however Nothing says it’s “working arduous to deliver Nothing Chats to extra locations.” And Sunbird, which supplies the know-how right here, has an invite-only beta and can launch its comparable app on the Google Play Retailer to be used on most Android telephones.
The iMessage lock-in
Apple customers get pleasure from a greater fundamental “texting” expertise when messaging different Apple customers, with out downloading every other apps or opening every other accounts. That type of lock-in has been very highly effective within the U.S. and some different areas, and fewer efficient globally.
Considerably surprisingly, and simply days after Nothing introduced its Chats app, Apple introduced it might be adopting RCS later subsequent 12 months, more than likely as a part of iOS 18. That’ll make life rather more nice for iPhone and Android customers alike, as images will look higher and group messages gained’t be blown up by a single Android consumer.
Nevertheless, inexperienced bubbles are staying, so Nothing Chats may nonetheless have a function. If it ever comes again.