Beeper is a new universal chat app that’s an attempt to unify 15 different chat platforms into a single interface. The app is the work of a team that includes Eric Migicovsky, the CEO and founder of former smartwatch manufacturer Pebble, who announced its launch on Twitter. Beeper’s site notes that the project was previously known as NovaChat, and requires a $10 per month subscription.
Although Beeper integrates with world’s most popular messaging services like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Slack, Twitter, Discord, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, it’s the support for Apple’s iMessage that’s perhaps most interesting. iMessage is only officially available on Apple devices, and it’s often cited by users as something that prevents them switching to Android. Migicovsky says Beeper should allow iMessage to work on Android, Windows, and Linux, but admits that it’s “using some trickery” in doing so.
And yes, iMessage works even on Android, Windows and Linux using some trickery 🙂
— Eric Migicovsky (@ericmigi) January 20, 2021
An FAQ on Beeper’s website gives a more in-depth explanation of exactly what this trickery involves. If you’ve got an always-online Mac, then you can install the Beeper Mac app to act as a bridge, similar to the approach AirMessage uses. But things get really wild if you don’t have access to a Mac, at which point Beeper says it’ll literally send each of its users a “Jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app installed” in order to act as a bridge. At this point we should probably mention that using Beeper involves paying a $10 a month subscription, which may or may not include the cost of the iPhone.
Just in case you thought Beeper was joking, in a followup tweet, Migicovsky said that he currently has 50 old iPhone 4S’s at his desk, ready to be upcycled for use with Beeper.
If the workaround works as Beeper claims, then the result should be a universal chat app that works across MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, offering a unified inbox, and the ability to search across messages from each of the 15 services. It’s built on the open source Matrix messaging protocol (Migicovsky previously described NovaChat’s relationship to Matrix as akin to Gmail’s relationship with email), and although the client app itself isn’t open source, the bridges connecting it to other chat services are.
Oh, and there’s a dark mode coming in Beeper’s next update, naturally.
While the short-term aim is to make it easier to chat to people across different chat apps, eventually Migicovsky has talked about the prospect of everyone using Matrix itself to chat with friends and colleagues, rather than simply using it as a bridge between services.
Although Migicovsky says he’s been using Beeper as his default chat client for the past two years, it doesn’t appear to be widely available just yet. Instead, Beeper asks prospective users to fill out a form on its website for an invitation.
Here’s the full list of chat services that Beeper currently supports:
- Facebook Messenger
- Android Messages (SMS)
- Beeper network