Apple Confirms Shutting Down Beeper Mini For Security Reasons

Beeper Mini was helping Android users ditch the 'green' bubble on iMessage, but Apple was not too happy about the service.

Highlights
  • Beeper Mini offered Android users the chance to access iMessage on their phones.
  • However, Apple saw Beeper Mini as a security threat.
  • Beeper says that it will continue to try restoring its services.
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Beeper Mini was a long-awaited solution to the everlasting green bubble – blue bubble fight due to Apple keeping iMessage exclusive to iOS. But it looks like Apple has shutdown Beeper Mini, calling it a security threat for iPhone users. Beeper Mini was already facing multiple outages since its launch, but it looks like Apple has pulled the plug on the service.

Furthermore, Apple also added that the company will continue to protect iMessage users from external sources, hinting at a complete crackdown on Beeper Mini or any other service that tries something similar.

What Has Apple Said About Blocking Beeper Mini?

In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple officially confirmed that it was blocking third-party clients from accessing iMessage and said that techniques deployed by such services pose a security risk to its customers. Significantly it said that it will “continue to make updates in the future to protect our users.”

Although the company did not name any service specifically, it is obvious that the statement is indeed about Beeper, which gained popularity in the last week.

Here’s what Apple said in full (via 9to5Mac)

At Apple, we build our products and services with industry-leading privacy and security technologies designed to give users control of their data and keep personal information safe. We took steps to protect our users by blocking techniques that exploit fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage. These techniques posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam, and phishing attacks. We will continue to make updates in the future to protect our users.

What is Beeper Mini

When Beeper Mini went live last week, it became instantly popular as the service enabled Android users to use iMessage directly. It improved the messaging experience between Android and iOS users enabling high-quality image sharing and end-to-end encryption, making it much better than the regular SMS protocol.

However, Beeper Mini was not officially supported by Apple. The engineering team at Beeper had reverse-engineered the iMessage protocol and replicated the same in its Android app. This allowed Android users to directly connect with Apple’s iMessage servers, instead of using a Mac-relay as other services do.

The reality is that Beeper Mini was actually fooling Apple’s iMessage servers. It was tricking Apple into believing that message requests from Beeper were being sent from an Apple device. This is exactly what enabled Beeper Mini users on Android to use iMessage directly.

Apple saw this as a major security risk. The company quickly patched iMessage, preventing Beeper Mini from accessing Apple’s servers. This resulted in a major downtime of Beeper’s services. Beeper has responded to Apple claiming that their services are entirely secure and end-to-end encrypted.

To recall, Apple said that the company will start using RCS by 2024. In the upcoming few months, Android users will have a better experience in texting their Apple friends, though alas the green bubble will continue.