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I am using Sunbird with iMessage for Android. It works.
- The just-announced Sunbird app claims to bring iMessage to Android for free with no need for hardware aside from an Android phone.
- I have tested out an early version of the app and can confirm it works.
- The app still has a long way to go before it will be a viable solution, however.
Yesterday, a company called Sunbird announced its app of the same name. The company makes a bold claim with its product, which is that it can allow iPhone users and Android users to securely chat together using iMessage without any of the hoops other companies put you through. It aims to be a one-stop solution to the Android vs iPhone messaging problem.
Sunbird was kind enough to give me early access to an alpha version of the app yesterday. Although I was able to connect my Apple ID to the app, messaging did not work. However, today, I was able to use a variety of iMessage features using a temporary “dummy” account loaned to me by Sunbird.
The end result of this is that I can confirm Sunbird works. It allowed me to use iMessage on Android.
Of course, this is an alpha app so it doesn’t work flawlessly. Lots of features are missing and things don’t work quite as expected. However, as a proof-of-concept, it is sound and shows Sunbird might be the real deal.
Sunbird: iMessage on Android
As mentioned, Sunbird loaned me an Apple account for these tests. We are still working on trying to get my personal account to work as intended. However, with this loaned account, this is what I was able to do:
- Connect Sunbird to the loaned Apple ID
- Send and receive blue-bubble texts with other iPhone users
- Use an iPhone to react to messages and see those messages on the Android phone
- Begin a group chat on the Android device in which everyone has a blue bubble
- React to group chat messages with the iPhone and see those reactions in the whole chat
- Send and receive full-quality media
- Send and receive vCards
That’s a pretty robust list of features. However, there are plenty of things missing:
- You cannot react to an iMessage from the Android phone
- Read receipts do not work on either end
- Typing indicators do not work on either end
- Some tests I tried to conduct did not work at all, i.e. the recipient never received the message
Keep in mind that this is an alpha version of the app, so it’s expected that things would be broken. When you consider that yesterday I wasn’t even able to send or receive one message and today I was able to do everything I did, the whole situation seems pretty promising.
I will continue working with Sunbird to address these issues. It will be interesting to see if the company’s other claims — full end-to-end encryption, no-cost service, no other hardware needed, etc. — hold true. Either way, this is pretty exciting.