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Sunbird, an insecure app that's never worked properly, will likely cost you $1.99 each month

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em.

Published onJune 20, 2024

Sunbird Messaging App Webpage
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
  • The much-maligned app Sunbird is now telling some users that it will be charging $1.99 each month for the service.
  • This is a bold move, considering the security problems the app has faced in the past, as well as the company’s history of over-promising and under-delivering.
  • With iPhones getting RCS support soon anyway, what is Sunbird really offering?

The Sunbird story just keeps getting stranger. The app — which promises to bring iMessage features to Android by bridging the two ecosystems through a macOS device — came back recently after taking a hiatus last year when it was revealed to be an absolute nightmare for privacy and security. Although we still haven’t seen anyone actually gain access to the “new” Sunbird, we have seen some new information related to it.

Thanks to Reddit posts first spotted by 9to5Google, some users are reporting receiving an email that says Sunbird will soon have a monthly fee. At $1.99 each month, Sunbird isn’t asking for much. However, the app has always been free, and the company’s early promotional material touted this as a major aspect of its appeal. At some point recently, though, Sunbird quietly altered this, with one 9to5Google reader pointing out that the company’s FAQ on its website now says this:

Sunbird will not remain a free product for unlimited messaging. Over the coming months we will test subscription types and payment options.

As recently as March this year, though, Sunbird’s site said this in response to the same FAQ:

Sunbird will be free for the foreseeable future, that’s the bottom line. We don’t have any reason to turn on paid subscriptions right now based on our current goal. Right now we have one goal in mind to give iMessage on Android to millions of users. Let’s connect the world first!

So, clearly, something has changed at Sunbird as far as its financial goals are concerned.

Regardless, it seems quite bizarre for the company to double down like this. First, it has a massive amount of ill will and doubt to overcome after the Nothing Chats debacle last year. Second, Sunbird still hasn’t adequately proven that it’s solved all (or even some) of the privacy and security problems we’ve seen from it. Third, at no point has Sunbird proven that the app actually works well enough to use as a daily messaging service, let alone one that is worth paying for. Fourth, even in this most recent email to users, Sunbird openly admits that there are significant problems with the app, including that “new Apple IDs may have a brief 30-60 minute warming up period,” “all playable audio formats cause the app to crash,” and “outgoing attachments may be duplicated on the receiver’s end sporadically,” to name a few. Fifth, and most importantly, iPhones will receive RCS support very soon, which will not solve the “green bubble” issue Android users face when communicating with iPhone users but will make any app that does what Sunbird does immediately less enticing. In other words, for the company to already be planning a subscription model, it is very much putting the cart before the horse.

As we’ve said before, multiple members of the Android Authority team are on the Sunbird waitlist. Once we gain access to the “new” app, we’ll report back to you.

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