iMessage-on-Android app Beeper is back with a new owner, but it's given up on fighting Apple — for now

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

You might remember Beeper. It's the company whose Beeper Mini app famously brought iMessage to Android last year before it found itself in something of a technological spat with Apple. Ultimately, Apple was able to stop Beeper Mini from working, and with some concerns about potential privacy and security considerations, things went very quiet indeed.

But now, Beeper is back. It has a new owner, too, with Automattic picking the company up in a deal that was only announced today. Automattic already owns WordPress and Tumblr among other online services, and it sees messaging as another key aspect of its future.

But while Beeper came to the fore for many when it went toe-to-toe with Apple, it's notable that iMessage will not be part of this return. Beeper seems to be of the opinion that it isn't worth battling Apple when in all likelihood, it'll lose. But that's in a technological sense. It'll be hoping that an antitrust complaint against Apple has teeth and can change matters, forcing the iPhone maker to open iMessage up to all. But for now, Beeper has its eyes elsewhere. 

Chatting about chats

In an interview with The Verge, Eric Migicovsky, Beeper’s CEO said that we shouldn't read too much into the fact that iMessage isn't part of this news — it isn't a case of giving up and selling out, it seems.

As for Beeper, the app, and the service that powers it, there are a few changes for those who have been waiting to try it out. For starters, the waitlist is no more and anyone who wants to get in on the act can now download Beeper and have at it. There were almost half a million people on that waitlist when it was opened up to everyone, so we can likely expect that there will be something of an influx of new users almost immediately. Whether or not that number will be affected by the lack of the flagship iMessage feature remains to be seen, as does how well Beeper's servers will handle the launch.

Moving forward, The Verge notes that "Migicovsky will be Automattic’s head of messaging, and the combined Texts and Beeper team will be working on Beeper." Texts is another semi-recent buyout for Automattic, a company that has not been shy with the checkbook of late. Migicovsky admits that there is "a hell of a lot of work ahead of us” in order to make sure that the Beeper platform is up to scratch and that security concerns are dealt with. Improvements have already been made, but there's still a way to go, it seems.

For now, Beeper will allow people to most of their favorite messaging services into one single app. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, and even Slack are all supported according to the company's website. Apps are available for all of the major platforms including the best iPhones, iPads, and Macs and the whole thing is free to use.

Notably, this news comes hot on the heels of another iMessage-on-Android service relaunching. Sunbird is back, and it reckons it's safe to use after suffering its own privacy and security issues last year. As to whether it actually is, that's another matter entirely.

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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.