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Android Central
Android Central
Andrew Myrick

Sunbird's iMessage for Android app is 'temporarily shut down'

Different messaging apps to replace iMessage.

What you need to know

  • Sunbird, an app designed to bring iMessage to Android, has been put "temporarily on hold."
  • The app listing has been completely removed from the Play Store, but there has been no official statement.
  • This comes after various privacy and security flaws were discovered in Sunbird and the Nothing Chats app.

Sunbird was all set for the glow-up of the year, as the company had partnered with Nothing to try and bring iMessage support with the Nothing Chats app. However, it didn't take long for privacy and security issues to arise, forcing Nothing to pull its app from the Play Store

And now, 9to5Google found that Sunbird has done the same, as the standalone app is no longer available for download. Those who have been able to get into the Sunbird beta program were greeted with the following message:

Sunbird temporarily on hold

Dear Sunbird User. We have decided to pause Sunbird usage for now while we investigate security concerns. We will update you when we are ready to proceed.

While we can't independently verify the message, trying to log into the Sunbird app results in the app force-closing automatically. Additionally, there have only been two messages posted to the Sunbird Messaging Discord. The first of which was posted on 11/19, stating that the app is "temporarily shut down" while the company performs a "detailed security analysis."

(Image credit: Android Central)

The second message was posted on 11/21 stating the following: 

Thanks for your patience and continued support. We have been working around the clock on the app to address the concerns that were raised and improve the experience. Navigating the press and our partner obligations kept us from sending a message sooner. Lots going on still and we're committed to Sunbird's success.

(Image credit: Android Central)

Besides those messages, there has been no official explanation from the Sunbird team about what happened. Additionally, Sunbird hasn't revealed whether these privacy and security security concerns are recent, or stem back all the way to when the app was first released.

As 9to5Google points out, the Sunbird Privacy and Security Standards landing page still has a section claiming it "uses end-to-end encryption." Additionally, the main website makes no mention of the recent state of affairs, nor has there been an update from the Sunbird Twitter account

It's pretty clear that there's a lot more going on than just needing to "fix a few bugs." While there were high hopes for both Sunbird and Nothing Chats, we just aren't sure how either company will be able to rebound. A good first step would be to accept blame and explain why this happened to begin with. 

As long as the privacy concerns are cleared up, Sunbird should also consider an in-app option for users to completely delete their accounts. This was not available in the previous build, but it's one of those things that should have been an option from the start. 

Nevertheless, it's disappointing to see everything unfold over the course of the past week, especially for those who want to use iMessage on Android without buying an iPhone. Unless we can be certain about our messages and information remaining private, we'll just have to wait for RCS support to come to iPhone users.

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