Nothing brings iMessage to Android — but should you risk your privacy for it?

Nothing Phone (2) held in the hand.
(Image credit: Future)

Be honest – if you use an iPhone, you’ve silently judged a green bubble in your messages app. It’s certainly a manufactured judgement based on the full capabilities of iMessage being limited to just Apple’s phones, and the company refusing to give Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging a look-in on its platform, but there is no doubt that this walled garden tactic is working.

That has forced Android app developers to get creative, and Nothing has stepped up to the plate with Nothing Chat. As the headline suggests, it brings iMessage to Android, but there is one big catch that we have to talk about.

Welcome to the Blue Bubble brigade

In absence of any willingness from Apple to play ball with RCS standards, Nothing Phone (2) users can turn to Nothing Chats. Launching on November 17 based on the Sunbird platform, it unifies RCS and iMessage into a single interface, and in Carl Pei’s (the founder of Nothing) own words, it will allow owners to “camouflage” themselves as iPhone users.

The feature set will be expanded over time — for example, tapback reactions and read receipts aren't supported right now. But with everything else available at launch, including high-res media sharing, this is a really solid start in terms of what iMessage support you can get.

Nothing chat

(Image credit: Nothing)

And while the blue bubble vs green bubble issue isn’t such a problem in the U.K. and Europe, you can see it’s a huge social faux pas in the US. As pointed out by MKBHD, 87% of teens own an iPhone, and a big motivating reason is iMessage functionality.

It’s one of Apple’s key technologies to keep people locked into its own ecosystem, and while Google has taken the fight for RCS to the EU for some mandated compatibility between competing devices, the Cupertino crew aren’t going to budge on this for a long time to come.

That is what makes the Nothing Chat workaround so enticing, and it reinforces what I said in my review of the Nothing Phone (2) for Laptop Mag – this is Android’s answer to the iPhone.

Nothing chat

(Image credit: Nothing)

What’s at risk?

So how does the app actually work? As MKBHD confirmed in his video covering the app, you are essentially logging into iMessage on a Mac mini in a server farm, which does all the blue bubble messaging for you. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are safeguards. Nothing confirmed to Inverse that your messages are encrypted, and was quick to say that “at no point can Sunbird access your messages or Apple ID.” But to make this work, you are giving another company your email address and password for your iCloud account. 

No matter how you dress it up, that’s a risk — it’s another potential exploit for your login to an account that holds a lot of sensitive data from passwords to payment information.

Whether you’re comfortable with this potential risk is up to you. Take a look at Songbird’s privacy policy if you need some reassurance. But I can see this working hand-in-hand with Nothing’s stand out design language to change some people’s minds, and really start the conversation on RCS adoption. Stay tuned for Apple’s reaction – whether it’s a big legal stampede or something more subtle.

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Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.