Beeper users say Apple is now blocking their Macs from using iMessage entirely

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The Apple-versus-Beeper saga is not over yet it seems, even though the iMessage-on-Android Beeper Mini was removed from the Play Store last week. Now, Apple customers who used Beeper’s apps are reporting that they’ve been banned from using iMessage on their Macs — a move Apple may have taken to disable Beeper’s apps from working properly, but ultimately penalizes its own customers for daring to try a non-Apple solution for accessing iMessage.

The latest follows a contentious game of cat-and-mouse between Apple and Beeper, which Apple ultimately won.

Beeper, a startup from Pebble smartwatch founder Eric Migicovsky, had originally developed a messaging app aggregator that allowed users to check their messages from across services like WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Instagram, Signal, Telegram, SMS and iMessage all in one place. That product was renamed Beeper Cloud with the launch of a new app for Android users, Beeper Mini, which offered access to iMessage to Android users. But the latter only found short-lived success, as Apple quickly figured out how to disable Beeper Mini from being able to reliably deliver messages. Even after Beeper rolled out a fix, Apple once again targeted Beeper’s users, blocking their messages.

The tech giant’s actions soon caught the attention of lawmakers, leading a bipartisan group of legislators to implore the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Apple’s “potential anticompetitive treatment” of the Beeper Mini application.

Now, users of Beeper’s applications are complaining on public forums, including Reddit and Discord, that Beeper’s desktop application (Beeper Cloud) has led to their Mac computers no longer being able to send and receive any iMessage texts. According to users’ recounting of their tech support experiences with Apple, the support reps are telling them their computer has been flagged for spam, or for sending too many messages — even though that’s not the case, some argued. This has led many Beeper users to believe this is how Apple is flagging them for removal from the iMessage network.

One Beeper customer advised others facing this problem to ask Apple if their Mac was in a “throttled status” or if their Apple ID was blocked for spam to get to the root of the issue. Admitting up front that third-party software was to blame would sometimes result in the support rep being able to lift the ban, some noted.

The news of the Mac bans was earlier reported by Apple news site AppleInsider and Times of India, and is being debated on Y Combinator forum site Hacker News. On the latter, some express their belief that the retaliation against Apple’s own users is justified as they had violated Apple’s terms, while others said that iMessage interoperability should be managed through regulation, not rogue apps. Far fewer argued that Apple is exerting its power in an anticompetitive fashion here.

As for Apple, it originally said Beeper techniques had “posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam, and phishing attacks.”

Apple and Beeper have been asked for further comment. In response, Migicovsky theorized that it could be an iMessage bug causing these issues.

Beeper put an end to its efforts to continue to develop an iMessage solution last month after releasing its latest software. Migicovsky explained at the time that while it believed it created something Apple could tolerate, it would no longer respond if Apple knocked the latest build offline, and would return instead to focus on “building the best chat app.”

Updated, 1/16/24 11:17 am et with Beeper comment. 

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