iMessage is easily the most important iPhone app that Apple has ever made. It offers rich communications and end-to-end encryption, features that several other apps have tried to replicate. Most importantly, iMessage only works on iPhone and Apple devices, and it’s a tremendous competitive advantage that Apple enjoys. Google continues to be terrified of iMessage, the kind of app that can steal users away from Android.
That’s why Google is trying to pressure Apple into building RCS support into the Messages app for iPhone. This would allow iPhone and Android users to enjoy iMessage-like conversations without going for a third-party chat app.
On the other hand, Apple never wanted to make an iMessage app for Android. And Google can’t. But third parties keep coming up with ideas to bring iMessage to Android. And a new app called Sunbird is the latest one.
According to Apple Insider, Sunbird is “the first and only fully-featured iMessage for Android app.” Sunbird is only in closed beta, but the app doesn’t require a relay server, Apple device, or desktop software.
Users will still need an Apple ID to log into iMessage on an Android device. Once you sign in, Sunbird will reportedly offer the same features as iMessage on the iPhone. End-to-end encryption, full-quality photo and video transfer support, group chats, reactions, live-typing indicators, and read receipts are all part of the experience.
Sunbird already sounds too good to be true. If the claims are accurate, Apple won’t be happy about it.
But Sunbird won’t just bring iMessage to Android devices. The app will also support additional popular chat apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and basic SMS/MMS functionality. After that, support for apps like Telegram, RCS, Instagram Direct, Slack, Signal, and Discord might follow.
The company also told Apple Insider that its servers do not store personal data or third-party login information. And all message types are end-to-end encrypted, except for basic SMS, which lacks the functionality. A security audit is planned for the future.
After bringing iMessage to Android, Sunbird plans to make a web app. If that actually happens, iMessage might work on additional platforms that shouldn’t support Apple’s instant messaging app.
Unfortunately, you can’t experience the Sunbird app just yet. You’ll need to join a waitlist for an invite to the closed beta.
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