The blue and green text bubbles have become iconic pop culture references to distinguish Android and Apple users. An app by Beeper called Beeper Mini closes this divide by allowing Android users to send messages through iMessage. Predictably, this spurred a ban from Apple. While Beeper Mini fills a gap that has long been requested, market pressures push Apple to improve interoperability without sacrificing its control over the Apple ecosystem, making the company popular with consumers.
It is common knowledge at this point that texts between iPhones use the iMessage program and show up as blue texts, whereas texts between iPhones and Androids show up as standard text messages. However, there is a lot more going on under the surface. iMessage is a messaging system specifically for Apple devices and encrypts text messages between users so only the people sending and receiving messages can see their content. Even Apple is locked out of it.
iMessage is a closed system, so only Apple devices can access it. When texting a non-Apple device, the texts are sent via SMS or Short Message Service, a far less secure text messaging standard dating back to the 1980s that has character limits per text and lacks many features modern messenger systems have.
Beeper Mini enabled Android users to access Apple’s protocol and send blue bubble messages. This works by connecting through Apple’s Push Notification system and then sending the message to the Android device using the app. Effectively, this process mimics an iPhone to gain access to the iMessage system.
Apple responded to Beeper’s announcement by making changes to their system to close the loophole that Beeper Mini took advantage of, citing the security risk of allowing users outside Apple’s network to access the system. Beeper Mini managed to bring back some functionality, but as of writing this, messages are exchanged through the user’s Apple email account rather than directly through text messages.
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Trey Price is a technology policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information, visit https://www.theamericanconsumer.org/ or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.