Nothing has unveiled its latest innovation for the Nothing Phone 2: introducing iMessage compatibility for Android users. This advancement is facilitated by the new “Nothing Chats” app, which integrates with the Sunbird messaging platform. This feature will become available in North America, the EU, and other European regions from November 17.
Breaking barriers in messaging
Nothing's new initiative aims to dismantle the divide created by different messaging services. The company's webpage emphasises its commitment to removing communication barriers. Sunbird's architecture ensures messages are transferred securely without being stored at any point during transmission. This means users' messages aren't kept on Sunbird's servers, enhancing privacy.
Technical insights and security concerns
Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee provided an early glimpse into Nothing Chats. He confirmed that the app functions by logging into a Mac Mini server, which then routes the messages. Jane Nho, Nothing's US head of PR, elaborated that Sunbird stores iCloud credentials securely and uses these to relay iMessages via the app. However, she noted that after two weeks of inactivity, Sunbird deleted these account details.
User experience and limitations
The Washington Post's trial of Nothing Chats revealed that, while effective, the app doesn't fully replicate the iMessage experience. Features like message editing and Tapback reactions are not yet fully functional, and group iMessage compatibility is limited. However, Nothing Chats supports SMS, ensuring group SMS messaging remains possible.
Users will appreciate features like real-time typing indicators and the ability to share high-quality media. Future updates are expected to include read receipts and message reactions.
Exclusive access and potential challenges
Access to Sunbird is currently limited to a waitlist, but Nothing Phone 2 users will enjoy exclusive access for the coming months. The launch timing is intriguing, as it might give Apple an opportunity to respond, potentially through legal or technical means. Carl Pei, CEO of Nothing, acknowledges that while the app might not revolutionise the industry, it could initiate important discussions. The EU's ongoing investigation into iMessage as a potential Apple “core platform service” adds another layer to this development.