Between iOS, Android, and the plethora of free messaging apps out there, smartphones are getting more cluttered as you scramble to flit between missives across a multitude of platforms, but a new app purports to do away with all the faff, and bring the main messaging services under one umbrella – including making iOS available on Android.
Beeper is run by a three-strong team, including Pebble creator Eric Migicovsky. It brings 15 chat networks together into a single inbox, with more to come every few weeks, and currently includes WhatsApp, iMessage, Instagram, Twitter DMs, Slack, Discord, and more.
The unified inbox offers users the ability to search through all of their chats across the 15 networks, as well as archiving and snoozing them, and setting reminders. Of course there's a catch, with a monthly fee of $10 required for the subscription service.
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The biggest draw of course, is the presence of iMessage on Android, Windows, and Linux. If you're a Mac user whose laptop is perpetually online, then the Beeper Mac app will act as a bridge. The code is open source, so you can circumvent the subscription fee if you like, and run the bridges on your own server if you know what you're doing.
If you don't know enough to get it up and running on your own, don't own a Mac, or simply can't be bothered with the hassle, Beeper offers a secondary option, which involves sending out a jailbroken iPhone 4S with the code pre-installed, so that the device acts as a bridge instead.
In terms of privacy and security, the jailbroken iPhone encrypts the message with a private key and transmits it via Beeper; according to Migicovsky, this means that your messages are safe and won't be able to be read by Beeper.
The subscription fee, and free iPhones aside, there's a lengthy sign up form to fill out that delves into the networks you use, your handle on them, your app usage, screentime, and general feedback to questions about your country of residence, and features you want to see in messaging apps. For the more privacy conscious, handing over details like this may ruffle some feathers.
On the topic of ruffling feathers, we can't imagine Apple being too happy with Beeper, but Migicovsky shrugs it off. Talking to TechCrunch, he says:
"What are they going to do? I think given the current climate of messaging freedom – I think it would be insane for Apple to start picking a fight with their own users."
Migicovsky also references the European Commission's draft legislation that pushes for all companies to make their messaging apps widely available across different platforms, adding, "when that passes, they legally won’t be able to block people from doing something like Beeper."
Of course, the legislation isn't in place, so Apple could start that fight if it wanted. It's currently embroiled in a battle with Epic Games, which prevented iOS players from updating Fortnite and playing the most current version. The install base for Fortnite on iOS is huge, and it's a massively popular game, so we don't think Apple is going to shrink from this confrontation by comparison.
We'd advise holding off on Beeper for now, until we see how this all plays out.