Apple partly halts Beeper’s iMessage app again, suggesting a long fight ahead

Beeper group chat illustration

Enlarge / The dream of everybody having blue bubbles, and epic photos of perfectly digestible meals, as proffered by Beeper.


A friend of mine had been using Beeper’s iMessage-for-Android app, Beeper Mini to keep up on group chats where she was the only Android user. It worked great until last Friday, when it didn’t work at all.

What stung her wasn’t the return to being the Android interloper in the chats again. It wasn’t the resulting lower-quality images, loss of encryption, and strange “Emphasized your message” reaction texts. It was losing messages during the outage and never being entirely certain they had been sent or received. There was a gathering on Saturday, and she had to double-check with a couple people about the details after showing up inadvertently early at the wrong spot.

That kind of grievance is why, after Apple on Wednesday appeared to have blocked what Beeper described as “~5% of Beeper Mini users” from accessing iMessages, both co-founder Eric Migicovksy and the app told users they understood if people wanted out. The app had already suspended its plans to charge customers $1.99 per month, following the first major outage. But this was something more about “how ridiculously annoying this uncertainty is for our users,” Migicovsky posted.

Fighting on two fronts

But Beeper would keep working to ensure access and keep fighting on other fronts. Migicovsky pointed to Epic’s victory at trial against Google’s Play Store (“big tech”) as motivation. “We have a chance. We’re not giving up.” Over the weekend, Migicovsky reposted shows of support from Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who have focused on reigning in and regulating large technology company’s powers.

Apple previously issued a (somewhat uncommon) statement about Beeper’s iMessage access, stating that it “took steps to protect our users by blocking techniques that exploit fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage.” Citing privacy, security, and spam concerns, Apple stated it would “continue to make updates in the future” to protect users. Migicovsky previously denied to Ars that Beeper used “fake credentials” or in any way made iMessages less secure.

I asked Migicovsky by direct message if, given Apple’s stated plan to continually block it, there could ever be a point at which Beeper’s access was “settled,” or “back up and running,” as he put it in his post on X (formerly Twitter). He wrote that it was up to the press and the community. “If there’s enough pressure on Apple, they will have to quit messing with us.” “Us,” he clarified, meant both Apple’s customers using iMessage and Android users trying to chat securely with iPhone friends.

“That’s who they’re penalizing,” he wrote. “It’s not a Beeper vs. Apple fight, it’s Apple versus customers.”