In the ever-evolving world of smartphone messaging, UK-based phone maker Nothing has unveiled an intriguing solution. Enter “Nothing Chats,” a new texting app to challenge the norm by offering Apple’s iMessage functionality on Android devices. However, this innovative approach comes with a twist, raising eyebrows as it steps beyond the bounds of Apple’s approval.
Nothing Chats, announced by Nothing, is slated to launch its beta version on November 17. Positioned as an alternative to the default Google Messages app on the Nothing Phone 2, it leverages Sunbird—a cross-platform texting service still in its beta phase. This collaboration promises support for Apple’s iMessage, allowing users of Nothing’s flagship phone to engage in text conversations with iPhone users, mimicking the iconic blue bubble appearance. Additionally, Nothing Chats extends its functionality to support RCS, SMS, and MMS for communication with other Android devices.
While numerous cross-platform text services exist, such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram, Apple’s iMessage remains a cultural force, particularly in the US. The allure of features exclusive to iPhone users, like enhanced media sharing and security, has kept many loyal to the iOS ecosystem. Nothing Chats aims to bridge this gap by providing Android users access to iMessage through a workaround developed by Sunbird.
To initiate iMessage within Nothing Chats, users need the Nothing Phone 2, priced at $599 (£579, AU$1,049). The app is exclusive to the Google Play Store, with an initial rollout in the US, Canada, the UK, and other European countries. Logging in with an Apple ID username, users can set up iMessage, although details are tokenized and destroyed after setup by Sunbird.
Notably, iMessage texts sent via Nothing Chats use the associated email address rather than the phone number. While a workaround, reminiscent of using iMessage on iPad or Mac, it provides a pathway into Apple’s texting ecosystem for Android users. Nothing plans to incorporate phone number compatibility in a future update.
The app also signals its expansion to desktop web browsers for texting from computers or tablets. However, initial launch limitations include the absence of message reactions, although plans are being made to integrate this feature before year-end.
While Nothing Chats is not the pioneer in providing an iMessage workaround for Android, its unique approach, relying on a remote Mac Mini computer, sets it apart. Despite potential complexities, the app offers manual and automatic disconnection options and promises flexibility.
While Nothing Chats introduces a distinctive way to access iMessage on Android, users must weigh the technical workaround against the convenience of Apple’s official iMessage service. The app’s development independent of Apple may lead to a lag in adopting new iMessage features, adding considerations for those seeking the coveted blue bubble texting experience on Android.