Monday, May 27, 2024

For years, Ben Black’s phone annoyed his family. It was the only Android device in a family message group with eight iPhones. Because of him, videos and photos would arrive in low resolution and there would be green bubbles of text amid bubbles of blue.But a new app called Beeper Mini gave him the ability to change that.

Mr. Black, 25, used the app to create an account for Apple’s messaging service, iMessage, with his Google Pixel phone number. For the first time, every message the family exchanged had a blue bubble and members were able to use perks like emojis and animations.

Since it was introduced on , Beeper Mini has quickly become a headache and potential antitrust problem for Apple. It has poked a hole in Apple’s messaging system, while critics say it has demonstrated how Apple bullies potential competitors.

Apple was caught by surprise when Beeper Mini gave Android devices access to its modern, iPhone-only service. Less than a week after Beeper Mini’s launch, Apple blocked the app by changing its iMessage system. It said the app created a security and privacy risk.

“Everyone is watching to see what kind of response Apple is going to have to Beeper Mini,” said Cory Doctorow, a special adviser to the digital rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation who has written a book about interoperability across different technologies. “We can’t tell how worried they are internally, but their response could have a huge impact on how messaging works.”

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