Beeper hits out at 'interference by Apple' and threatens to throw in the towel if its iMessage-on-Android app is blocked again

Beeper Mini iMessage on Android
(Image credit: Future / Apple / Android)

Beeper, a company that provides a service and app that makes iMessage available on Android, has been in something of a cat-and-mouse battle with Apple in recent weeks. Beeper Mini launched with bold claims of being able to bring iMessage to Android users via their phone number, something that wasn't previously possible via competing products. Apple subsequently blocked it, and it's all been downhill ever since.

Beeper recently came roaring back with Beeper Mini's second coming, but there was a catch — the phone number feature was gone, leaving people only able to send and receive iMessages using their email address. And that wasn't even the worst part — they'd need access to a Mac in order to make the whole thing work. Now, Beeper Mini is back again with another update, saying that phone numbers are working once more. But for how long, nobody can say, but that isn't even the worst bit with Beeper admitting that you'll need a jailbroken iPhone to make it work.

Worse, Beeper says that while it thinks Apple will be happy with its current implementation of Beeper Mini (spoiler: it won't) it admits that it has no plans to offer a new workaround in the future, should one be needed.

'Yes, we realize this solution is not ideal'

Beeper today published two blog posts, the first of which explains that "iMessage and phone registration are now back," something that should allow Android phone owners to receive iMessages sent to their phone number, not just their email address. But it's fair to say that the steps required to make it work are less than ideal.

The less charitable amongst us might say they're downright ridiculous.

"Have an old iPhone (6/6s/SE1/7/8/X) and a Mac or Linux computer (Raspberry Pi works) - you’re in luck," the blog post explains. "Follow our instructions (takes only 10-15 minutes) to jailbreak your iPhone, install a Beeper tool to generate iMessage registration code, then update to the latest Beeper Mini app and enter your code." Yes, you read that right. You need to first have an old iPhone hanging around and then be willing to jailbreak it, just to get iMessage to work on your Android phone. "Phone number registration will now work! Leave the iPhone plugged into power, at home, connected to wifi," the post continues.

Don't have an iPhone handy? Beeper will rent you one starting next year, apparently.

Suddenly, the slick experience that Beeper Mini offered when this all started is long gone, replaced with hacked iPhones and rental subscriptions.

What's more, there's no guarantee any of this will last.

'Unreliable due to interference by Apple

A second blog post sought to explain what's going on behind the scenes at Beeper and then shift the blame for its failing service to Apple.

"Each time that Beeper Mini goes ‘down’ or is made to be unreliable due to interference by Apple, Beeper’s credibility takes a hit," Beeper's statement reads. "It’s unsustainable. As much as we want to fight for what we believe is a fantastic product that really should exist, the truth is that we can’t win a cat-and-mouse game with the largest company on earth." That seems fair, and it's probably something that should have been thought long and hard about long before we got here, too.

The post continues, saying that with its latest software "we believe we’ve created something that Apple can tolerate existing," although that seems unlikely. "We do not have any current plans to respond if this solution is knocked offline."

That final part is the key one because it seems Beeper Mini is probably not long for this world. Apple will no doubt block it once again, and it seems Beeper has had enough. That despite a long blog post in which it claims it should be allowed to continue piggybacking off iMessage servers.

The second blog post was signed by Eric Migicovsky, Beeper's CEO, who spends a lot of words saying that it isn't fair Apple won't let it use iMessage. Now, it seems Beeper's ready to take its ball and go home, too.

Except it's not Beeper's ball, it's Apple's, and it went home ages ago.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.