The Sunbird messaging app for Android has ceased operations amid significant privacy apprehensions, as detailed by 9to5Google. The closure follows heightened scrutiny when the app joined forces with Nothing to serve as the foundation for the smartphone manufacturer’s Nothing Chats app. Nothing’s application was swiftly removed from availability within a day due to the highlighted privacy concerns.
Although the app has been removed from Google’s Play Store, the parent company insists that the shutdown is temporary, as indicated in a Reddit announcement. In essence, Sunbird, initially a specialized product with functionality issues, came under intensified scrutiny with the collaboration with Nothing, revealing its shortcomings. Despite the app’s promise of complete end-to-end encryption, numerous users could exploit vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to private messages—over 630,000 files were found to be susceptible to this vulnerability, according to 9to5Google.
The signs of Sunbird’s troubles were apparent to observant individuals before Nothing’s involvement. The company repeatedly missed launch deadlines, coupled with ambitious claims about secure iMessage and Android chat interoperability. During its initial announcement in 2022, Sunbird avoided questions about the app’s technology and privacy concerns, even ending a Zoom chat when confronted, as reported by ArsTechnica. This fueled suggestions that Sunbird was not a “serious company.”
Additionally, the looming presence of Apple’s announcement that it would support RCS text messaging in 2024 further diminished the need for intermediary solutions like Sunbird. Essentially, the division between green and blue bubbles in messaging is on the verge of extinction.
Despite its removal from the Play Store, Sunbird’s official website remains silent about the shutdown, still highlighting the app’s unparalleled end-to-end encryption. The company has yet to issue a public statement on the matter.