Two apps that claimed to bring iMessage functionality to Android devices have been shut down after a security breach was discovered.
Nothing Chats and Sunbird, both iMessage apps for Android, have temporarily shut down their services after it was revealed that they were not encrypting the messages they sent and received. The apps were logging and storing the messages in plain text, exposing them to potential hackers and third parties.
Nothing Chats was pulled from the Google Play Store last week after a report from 9to5Google exposed its security flaws. The app was marketed as a way for Android users to chat with their iPhone friends using iMessage.
Sunbird, which had licensed its technology to Nothing Chats, followed suit and shut down its services as well. The app was still in alpha stage. It also allowed Android users to send and receive iMessages.
The apps were not officially supported by Apple, which has not made iMessage available for Android devices. iMessage is one of the features that distinguishes the iOS ecosystem from other platforms. It offers end-to-end encryption, seamless integration with other Apple services, and the coveted blue bubbles.
But there may be some hope for a better messaging experience between Android and iPhone users in the future. Apple recently announced that it will finally support RCS, which could make iMessage apps for Android irrelevant. RCS is a messaging standard that aims to replace the outdated SMS and MMS with a more modern and feature-rich messaging system. It can allow features like read receipts, typing indicators, and higher quality media to work between iOS and Android, though these features will still stick with green bubbles within Apple’s Messages app.
Apple’s decision to adopt RCS is a major reversal that could resolve compatibility issues in text messaging between iPhones and Android smartphones. However, it is not clear when Apple will roll out the support for RCS, as the company said it plans to do so next year.