This is interesting: a new app called Beeper is emerging as a potential single platform for all of your messaging needs. By all, we mean all, as they even claim to be able to also support Apple’s iMessage as a cross-platform messaging option.
There’s more to this though which we’ll explore later. Where Beeper stands out from the pack is the huge range of messaging apps that can be covered under a single banner. The coverage includes all of the major or “mainstream” messaging apps.
Exploring the Beeper options, and compatibility starts with the platforms you can install on. All of them is the answer; Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and of course, Android. This results in a single interface for users, making all of their chats (regardless if it’s Telelgram, Whatsapp or Slack etc) all present exactly the same.
What’s the catch?
There’s a lot of good things being outlined here like streamlining messaging and simple interfaces. You can also use their API to introduce bots to your chats, but the biggest catch is that there’s a cost. US$10 per month in fact, which seems to be at a level that may not get a lot of traction.
How are they connecting to iMessage?
That’s another interesting discussion in that one of two options are presented and, well… I’ll quote their page:
we send each user a Jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app installed which bridges to iMessage, or if they have a Mac that is always connected to the internet, they can install the Beeper Mac app which acts as a bridge.
For my mind there are issues here. The first being that you’re either burning power by leaving a Mac, Mac Mini or Macbook on 24/7 for the sake of messaging, or potentially exposing your account — and messages — through a jailbroken device that is no longer getting security updates.
What about security?
Each of the major platforms has its own security processes and protocols in place, generally speaking, offering end to end encryption for your messaging. The problem for Beeper is that while the individual platforms create their own closed-loop, Beeper then needs to have a secure loop from their servers to the chosen platform.
This results in a question (that isn’t answered anywhere we’ve found) about users messages being decrypted — however briefly — in transit from their friend’s device before it reaches the own.
The service is apparently built on top of a project called Matrix:
an open source project that publishes the Matrix open standard for secure, decentralised, real-time communication, and its Apache licensed reference implementations.
There’s a lot to like about the concept here and it will be interersting to see how this progresses, but some questions need to be answered.
If you’re keen to take a look, Beeper have an EOI page running where you can sign up to take part.
Ed. The idea of having to use a (supplied) jailbroken iPhone in order to get iMessages working on an aggegator platform like this, that also costs $10 a month, seems bonkers to me… It looks like a solution in search of a problem, and the compromises required to solve that problem just seem like a bit too much.