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Beeper couldn’t bring iMessage to Android — but it can still make a great chat app

Beeper needed a fresh start. Late last year, the company bet big on a hacked-together iMessage app for Android, only to be shut down by Apple within days. Beeper tried to fight back, but it ultimately threw in the towel just weeks later in a widely covered defeat.

“December was a wild ride,” Eric Migicovsky, the co-founder of Beeper, tells The Verge. 

With dreams of an iMessage app dead, Beeper went back to square one to figure out its next steps. And the answer was to stop fighting Apple and return to its original goal: bringing every chat app — iMessage excepted — into a single place. “We’ve refocused on our primary mission,” Migicovsky says, “which is to build the best chat app on earth.”

The new Beeper app launched in beta last week, and it’s a complete rewrite of the app the Beeper team was originally working on. It doesn’t turn your green Android bubbles to blue — like Beeper Mini briefly did — but it does a whole lot of other cool things that make messaging the friends you have across different platforms a lot easier.

I’ve never been more aware of all the people I’ve been ghosting

It starts with your text messages. Beeper’s inbox can pull in the RCS and SMS messages your phone is already receiving. You can then connect Beeper to messaging services like Telegram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Signal and to social platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and X. Even full-on chat services like Discord and Slack are supported. The app also syncs to a desktop client, so you can access your messages across platforms.

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I’ve been trying out a beta version of the app for the past week, and I’ve never been more aware of all the people I’ve been ghosting.

That’s because all your linked messages get siphoned into a single inbox — read, unread, or ignored. It was a little eye-opening for me, as I sifted through messages I completely missed or forgot about on platforms I don’t use as often, like LinkedIn and Discord. There’s a real convenience to it, as you don’t have to keep checking individual apps. On Instagram, for example, I don’t turn my notifications on because I don’t care about getting pings about liked photos — but that means I don’t notifications about DMs. I also don’t have the LinkedIn app, so I don’t get push notifications about messages there, either. Beeper basically solves that problem for me.

But it does get a little chaotic at times. There are some ways to organize all of your messages, but it’s not quite enough yet. You can’t delete or archive chats, for instance. Beeper says it’s working on adding this in the future.

Image: Beeper

For now, you can choose from either a “Minimal” or “Pro” interface. The Pro version lets you toggle on app icons for each chat, indicating the services each message comes from, while the Minimal version doesn’t, keeping things a bit tidier. I’ve found it helpful to pin certain chats, too, which puts your most important contacts at the top of the app. Besides the bursting inbox, Beeper isn’t a lot different from the other texting apps I’ve used, as you can attach images, record voice messages, and create group chats. 

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Beeper originally launched its all-in-one chat app in 2021, but it was only available through a waitlist. The new Beeper comes with features the previous version didn’t have, including a refreshed design as well as the ability to link new messaging platforms from the mobile app — not just the desktop client. It also adds support for foldables and native Android features like chat bubbles. Now that it’s rebuilt, Beeper is looking to drop the waitlist and make its messaging app available to everyone.

“Everyone appreciates the speed and polish of the new app,” Migicovsky tells The Verge. “Since it’s an open beta test, and we have an extraordinarily passionate userbase, we’ve gotten feedback and feature requests too.” For now, users can access the beta version of Beeper if they have an existing Beeper account. You can also sign up for the waitlist to get access at a later date.

The beta so far has been “huge,” Migicovsky says. As of last Friday, he said, one-third of Beeper’s Android users had already upgraded.

Beeper’s roadmap holds a lot of promise. It includes things like support for Android Auto, scheduled messages, “@” mentions, the ability to see a list of who reacted to a message, and a feature that lets you archive messages. There are also some experimental features you can try, including a fully end-to-end encrypted on-device Signal bridge and a sticker maker.

Beeper hoped to score a big win by taking on iMessage. Now that it’s forced to rely on its original pitch, every bit of execution matters. It is a little overwhelming to have messages from so many different sources in one place, but I like Beeper so far. And at least this new version of the app can’t be done in by any one company.

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