Yes, you did read that headline correctly, you can use Apple’s iMessage service on Android with an app called iMessage Chat by first-time developer Daniel Zweigart now available on Google Play.
The app works, but before you rush to install it, you should read the rest of this article.
It’s not an official app (like Apple would ever publish anything official on Android), and it has a few pretty major bugs that seem likely to cause problems for users, potentially even resulting in a factory reset for the uneducated user. The app does a few unexpected things with message sorting too.
The UI is similar to Apple’s own messaging app rather than an Android Holo design, and the app imports contacts from the addresses on your device.
A teardown of the APK by Adam Bell has shown that it’s actually posing as a Mac Mini when communicating with Apple’s iMessage services. It’s unknown how long this will last before it’s blocked by Apple.
So it looks like that iMessage on Android hack is super sketch and is spoofing iMessage requests as a mac mini: pic.twitter.com/TYT6Djumdv
— Adam Bell (@b3ll) September 24, 2013
If you’ve got a lot of friends on the Apple platform who refuse to install any other free cross-platform messaging systems (like Viber, Whatsapp or Google Hangouts to name a few) then you’d be understandably tempted to at least try iMessage Chat.
Around 30 minutes after installing the app on my Nexus 7, I started to receive emails from Apple telling me that I had requested a password reset, which I certainly had not.
Additionally, mentions on Twitter indicate that the app contains code designed to download APKs in the background, which is specifically outlawed by Google’s Play rules.
iMessage for Android app has code to download APKs in the background? TOTALLY SAFE. Not rootkit-ing your phone or anything? 😀
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 24, 2013
I’d advise approaching iMessage Chat with caution. Try it out with a device you can wipe without losing any data, and perhaps use a dummy or throwaway Apple ID – not your ID that has your credit card or any balance attached to it.
Update According to this post by Jay Freeman, the app receives directions on how to communicate with Apple’s iMessage systems from a server in China, which may be caching authentication information. He does, however, confirm that the app does what it says it’ll do.