Beeper says it reverse-engineered iMessage into an Android app

The universal chat app Beeper just got a lot more, well, universal. The company just unveiled the Beeper Mini app, which makes the bold claim to bring true iMessage support to Android devices. Even bolder? It seems to actually work, according to users who have tried it. This isn’t done in a strange hacky way that could compromise privacy and security, like Nothing’s beleaguered attempt to play nice with iOS devices.

Instead, the code has been reverse-engineered from the ground up, so it’s basically the official iMessage protocol. The texts are even sent to Apple’s servers before moving on to their final destination, just like a real iMessage created by an iPhone. Even weirder? All of this high-tech wizardry was created by a 16-year-old high school student.

Once you open the app, it goes through all of your text message conversations and flags the ones from iMessage users. The system then switches them over to blue bubble conversations via Apple’s official platform. From then on, every time you talk to that person, the bubbles will be bluer than a clear spring day. You also don’t need an Apple ID to login, alleviating many of the security concerns that plagued rival offerings.

Beeper co-founder Eric Migicovsky was contacted by the talented high-schooler and was blown away by the tech. “No one on Earth had done that,” he told The Verge. “No one had put all the pieces together.”

It’s worth reiterating. This platform isn’t hacking the iMessage experience so it works on Android. It is the iMessage experience working on Android, as it’s sending actual iMessages. The tech was created by jailbreaking iPhones to get a good look at how the operating system handles iMessages, before recreating the software.

Beeper is being really transparent here, and the company knows it’s potentially skating on thin ice with regard to how Apple will respond. Apple has never been especially friendly to those it deems to be infringing on company secrets, but it did just announce forthcoming support for the RCS messaging standard. This will allow for greater interoperability between Android and iOS devices, so maybe it’ll let Beeper Mini slide for now. Being as how the app actually recreates Apple code, however, it likely wouldn’t be difficult to put the kibosh on Beeper from its end.

Migicovsky says Beeper’s iMessage code will be open source to ensure there will be no security or privacy lapses. As for potential legal hurdles, the co-founder says his company is on the right side of the law, noting there’s no actual Apple code in Beeper Mini, just custom-made recreated code. Also, he cites legal precedence in copyright law that has sided with those who reverse engineer code. In any event, Beeper Mini is available, for now, and it’s free to download, though it does feature in-app purchases.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at 

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