Friday, December 22, 2023

Beeper’s Final Fixes and Government Investigations

Juli Clover:

On Reddit, the Beeper Mini team says that the Mac-based fix coming on December 20 stabilizes iMessage for Beeper Cloud and Mini, and it “works well” and “is very reliable.”


Beeper has been using its own Mac servers to provide that information to Apple, but that resulted in thousands of Beeper users having the same registration info, which was an “easy target for Apple.”

The Beeper update will instead generate unique registration data for each Mac, making it harder for Apple to tell which users are accessing iMessage through an Android device. The Beeper Mini team says that registration data is “only used to indicate that a Mac is available during registration” and that the Mac will not be given access to an account or messages.

Tim Hardwick:

The developers of Beeper Mini, the iMessage for Android app, are back with another attempt to keep Apple’s blue bubbles onside, and this time they will ask users to generate their iMessage registration data with the help of jailbroken iPhones, MacRumors has learned.


If users don’t have access to an old iPhone for jailbreaking in order to complete the registration process, that’s okay – Beeper will rent them one for a small monthly fee. The developers say this service will be available in the new year, if there is enough interest.

Juli Clover:

The Beeper Mini team says that 10 to 20 people can “safely” use the same registration data, but the Mac method limits Beeper Mini users to email-based iMessage communications, and it requires an Apple ID.

The second more complicated Beeper Mini workaround uses an iPhone. Beeper Mini’s developers suggest that customers get an old iPhone 6, 6s, original SE, 7, 8, or X and jailbreak it with a Mac or Linux computer to install a Beeper tool that generates an iMessage registration code. The registration code can be added to the Beeper Mini app, and it allows an Android phone number to be registered with iMessage.

Aisha Malik (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Although the company has issued a complex workaround, it says it has no plans to roll out another one if this one is knocked down by Apple.

“Each time that Beeper Mini goes ‘down’ or is made to be unreliable due to interference by Apple, Beeper’s credibility takes a hit,” the company wrote in a blog post. “It’s unsustainable. As much as we want to fight for what we believe is a fantastic product that really should exist, the truth is that we can’t win a cat-and-mouse game with the largest company on earth. With our latest software release, we believe we’ve created something that Apple can tolerate existing. We do not have any current plans to respond if this solution is knocked offline.”

Josh Centers:

I’m starting to suspect that Beeper Mini is a pretense to sue or regulate Apple, much like Epic trying to sneak IAP past the App Store.

I’m supposed to believe these guys are smart enough to reverse engineer iMessage but dumb enough to not expect Apple to block it?

Wes Davis and Jess Weatherbed:

[…] a group of US lawmakers are pushing for the DOJ to investigate Apple for “potentially anticompetitive conduct” over its attempts to disable Beeper’s services. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), as well as Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ken Buck (R-CO), said in a letter to the DOJ that Beeper’s Android messaging app, Beeper Mini, was a threat to Apple’s leverage by “creating [a] more competitive mobile applications market, which in turn [creates] a more competitive mobile device market.”

Kevin Purdy (Hacker News):

Eric Migicovsky welcomed CBS Mornings into his garage, where he advanced his argument that Beeper was turning grossly insecure SMS messages between iPhone and Android users into secure, end-to-end encrypted chats.


That interview lined up with another development: a bi-partisan foursome of US lawmakers, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), sending a letter to the Department of Justice regarding “Apple’s potential anti-competitive treatment of the Beeper Mini messaging application.” Apple’s actions toward Beeper, the letter suggests, could “eliminate choices for consumers,” “discourage future innovation and investment” in messaging, and make Apple a “digital gatekeeper,” suggesting a need for review by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.

Adamya Sharma (Hacker News):

“In December 2015, Beeper’s Chief Executive Officer, Eric Migicovsky, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. He expressed concern that dominant messaging services would use their position to impose barriers to interoperability and prevent Beeper entering and delivering services that consumers want. Given Apple’s recent actions, that concern appears prescient,” the lawmakers state in their letter to the DOJ.

William Gallagher (Slashdot):

According to The Information, this cycle is going to continue, too, as Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky maintains that his company will persist — and could take legal action, too.

“We’re investigating legal ramifications for Apple, definitely,” said Migicovsky. “Around antitrust, around competition, around how they’ve made the experience worse for iPhone users with this change.”

Hartley Charlton:

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are intensifying their investigations into Apple's alleged anti-competitive practices following the recent blocking of the iMessage for Android app Beeper Mini, the New York Times reports.


Update (2023-12-28): Beeper Mini was removed from the Google Play Store.

See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2024-01-30): Malcolm Owen (Hacker News):

Beeper mini users who used their hardware to register their app with Apple’s iMessage network may find their Mac blocked from the service instead, in what could be retaliation against the use of the controversial messaging app.


It appears that Apple may be detecting the instances of registrations being used by Beeper, and then striking the registration’s access from iMessage. The problem is that doing so also blocks the legitimate original source of the registration too, as well as any other devices that use the same registration data.

At the time of the method’s introduction, Beeper said that testing revealed up to 20 users could “safely” use the same registration data.

Chethan Rao (via Hacker News) :

While Apple has since reversed the ban, this whole ordeal has led Beeper to call off its iMessage efforts.


The Beeper team notes that they emailed Apple directly about the banning episode, but didn’t hear back from the company. It was then that they approached a NYT reporter with experience covering Beeper, who in turn, got in touch with Apple. The bans were lifted around two days later, per Beeper.


3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

In the meantime, real competitors like Whats'app don't have any issue to exchange message between iOS and Android and is even dominant in some large part of the World.

Beeper Mini is not a competitor, it is juste service that want to exploit and use Apple resources to provide a service Apple do not want to pay for.

Legal ramifications for APPLE? How about criminal ramifications for Beeper? Who is the one illegally defrauding whose services? How is the narrative going against Apple here? Is Microsoft being anticompetitive because they won’t let me hijack their service to use an Office 365 account, and then charge other people to use their services?!

Someone at Apple PR should get fired for letting this nonsense spin out of control.

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