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iMessage Arrives on Nothing Phone 2, But with Certain Limitations


For quite some time, Android has grappled with an iMessage predicament, especially in the United States, where Apple’s exclusive chat platform, particularly favored by teens, dominates. The distinctive green chat bubbles assigned to messages from Android phones have even deterred some Americans from making the switch due to perceived social stigma. Google has attempted various strategies, including seeking regulatory intervention from the European Commission, to persuade Apple to open up the platform. Until recently, most Android users found themselves with limited options to address this issue.

Enter Nothing Chats, a newly introduced messaging app that accommodates both RCS and iMessage. Building upon Sunbird, a unified messaging platform available in closed beta since the previous year’s end, Nothing Chats allows users to consolidate all their chats, including iMessage, within a single interface. Notably, Sunbird, which amassed a waitlist exceeding 100,000 entries by April, offers Android users a solution to communicate with their iPhone-owning friends. Beeper, conceived by Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky, stands as a prominent player in this domain.


With the launch of Chats on Friday, Nothing goes beyond merely allowing Phone 2 owners to “camouflage” themselves as iPhone users. Chats comes preloaded with support for several of iMessage’s distinctive features, including typing indicators, high-resolution media sharing, and comprehensive group messaging. Read receipts and Tapback reactions will be added at a later date. Additionally, Chats is compatible with RCS, offering iMessage-like features when communicating with Android contacts.

Nothing CEO Carl Pei emphasized the acknowledgment of the “blue bubble vs. green bubble dilemma,” particularly in North America, and expressed the belief that communication freedom should transcend smartphone brands. Pei stated, “Nothing Chats allows for freedom of communication between anyone regardless of their brand of smartphone – which is how it should be.” He also reminded consumers of their choice in device selection, emphasizing that daily behaviors need not be dictated by a single company.

Regarding privacy concerns, Pei assured users that no data is stored on the platform. However, there are some reservations. Similar to Beeper, Sunbird (the underlying technology of Chats) employs a workaround that is not officially supported by Apple, potentially posing risks. Nothing explained to Inverse that Sunbird’s “patented” process for bringing iMessage to Android involves server farms of Mac minis that route users’ messages through to Apple.

Prior to gaining access to iMessage through Nothing Chats, individuals need to log in to their Apple ID via Sunbird’s platform. Nothing assured Inverse that all iMessage content transmitted through Chats is encrypted, emphasizing that “at no point can Sunbird access your messages or Apple ID.” Furthermore, Nothing specified that the startup will erase a user’s Apple ID credentials after a two-week period of inactivity. Nevertheless, opting to utilize Nothing Chats for iMessage access means entrusting your Apple ID to a company other than Apple.


Concerning the future of Nothing Chats, when questioned about the potential of legal action from Apple against Nothing and Sunbird, Pei expressed to Marques Brownlee that he believed the tech giant would “probably do nothing.”

In a separate conversation with The Washington Post, Pei disclosed that Nothing has sold “about six figures’ worth” of Phone 2 devices in North America, Britain, and Europe. Essentially, Nothing is a relatively small player in a vast market. Moreover, Apple is navigating a regulatory landscape where attempting to shut down a platform facilitating iMessage access could attract scrutiny from regulators in the European Union and beyond.

Nothing Chats will be available for download from the Play Store starting on November 17. Currently, access to the platform requires a Nothing Phone 2, and its regional availability is limited to the US, Canada, UK, EU, and other European countries, including Norway and Switzerland.

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