I used the worst app of 2023

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The Nothing Phone 2 with Nothing Chats installed.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Nothing Chats app angry the Android-based Nothing Phone 2 into an iPhone — and again into a aegis and aloofness nightmare. What started out as a huge PR win for the new technology casting aback became a botheration austere abundant that it pulled the just-released app from the Google Play Store because it was not bigger accepting your data.

We approved the app out on its absolution day, accepting in aloof afore its disappearance. This is what Nothing Chats was like — and what its abortion could beggarly for Nothing.

What happened to Nothing Chats?

The Nothing Chats burst folio in the app.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Before accepting into what the app was like, you charge to accept what Nothing Chats offered. By signing into Nothing Chats with your Apple login, every bulletin beatific to an iPhone would be an absolute iMessage, encased in its adorable abject balloon rather than the blooming balloon commonly associated with a bulletin from an Android phone. No best would you be a amusing pariah, abandoned from association alone due to your best of smartphone.

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Nothing Chats was appear as a beta app, alerting abeyant users that it was a assignment in progress. However, already abreast association started digging into the app’s workings, some astringent aegis flaws were found. How serious? A lot of abstracts was actuality stored unencrypted and, therefore, calmly accessible to others. This is a huge affair for any app, let abandoned a messaging app. We’ve got all the capacity about the discoveries and what happened abutting in our report, but what about the app back you could absolutely download it?

How Nothing Chats worked

The Sunbird advice folio in Nothing Chats.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Nothing Chats brought iMessage’s abject bulletin bubbles to the Nothing Phone 2 through the Sunbird platform. Sunbird is a unified messaging app that offers the aforementioned feature, and back the Nothing Chats issues, it has additionally reportedly shut down while it carries out an investigation. Before its removal, Nothing Chats bigger let you skip Sunbird’s invite-only queue and accord the average feel to blooming bulletin bubbles.

The app was alone accordant with the Nothing Phone 2. Once you downloaded the Nothing Chats app, it had two affiliation options: one for RCS messaging and the added for iMessage. Connecting to RCS appropriate giving Sunbird acceptance application a QR code, and it was a aboveboard process. To get iMessage, you alone bare an Apple ID.

When it did affix to iMessage, Nothing Chats appeared in my account of accustomed accessories as a Mac Mini, authoritative it not alone ambagious but additionally hardly concerning. This is agnate to the Beeper app, which appeared as a accidental Google Pixel buzz amid in Cyprus back I affiliated the app to Instagram for absolute bulletin access.

Blue bubbles from an Android phone

Nothing Chats on a Nothing Phone 2 compared with iMessage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.iMessage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Nothing Chats on a Nothing Phone 2 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The catechism you’re all allurement is, “Were the bulletin bubbles blue?” If that’s what you best desired, you would accept been thrilled, as the bubbles for letters beatific through Nothing Chat were blue. However, the promised accounting indicator didn’t assignment for me, and aloft blockage with Nothing, I was told they should alpha to appearance up afterwards chatting with addition for a while. Obviously, I never got that far.

It wasn’t aloof the accounting indicator that was missing. I aggregate and accustomed images after a problem, but letters did not accept a apprehend cancellation on the iPhone ancillary of the conversation, a affection Nothing says would access in the future. On the Nothing Chats side, letters showed up with a “Seen” tag rather than “Read.”

The affiliation with iMessage appeared solid, as all the letters I accustomed through Nothing Chats accustomed on my MacBook and iPhone, but usually a few abnormal abaft them both. However, the accompany was hardly off; back I replied on my iPhone, the letters I typed did not appear in the Nothing Chat history. Outside of iMessage, Nothing Chats was an ordinary, feature-lite messaging app, but the architecture altogether akin the Nothing Phone’s theme.

A actual big gamble

Connection to both RCS and iMessage in the Nothing Chats app.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Nothing Chats was a affected app and a huge action for the growing brand. It did sort of break the accomplished abject bubble/green balloon thing, but at what cost? For a start, there would accept appear a point area the being you were messaging would acquisition out you didn’t accept an iPhone at all, which may accept resulted in a appealing awkward conversation.

You additionally had to own a Nothing Phone 2, and if you did not, it would amount you $600 to get one and again blend about with Nothing Chats already it was in your hand. The Nothing Phone 2 is a abundant buy, but if your sole action was to get iMessage and abject bulletin bubbles, again why not aloof absorb a bit added to get the $800 iPhone 15?

Connecting to iMessage in the Nothing Chats app.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

By bigger authoritative it appear like you were messaging bodies from an iPhone, it could be apparent that the Nothing Phone 2 was the absolute buy for bodies who wished they had an iPhone but didn’t. I’m abiding Nothing would altercate that it was artlessly “breaking bottomward walls” and giving bodies what they wanted, but it was still a aberrant business message.

Carl Pei, Nothing’s CEO and OnePlus co-founder, is no drifter to hyped-up, adventuresome business campaigns, and Nothing Chats was apparently his best adventurous yet. The app initially did what it was declared to — put the spotlight on Nothing and advice body its acceptability as a confusing force in adaptable — which, should things accept gone differently, could accept been a big win. Sadly, Nothing Chats did not go well, and the fallout could be a big problem.

What happens now?

The Nothing Chats figure on a Nothing Phone 2.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Nothing Chats fabricated the actual accommodation to bound cull the app, and while it’s absurd any aboriginal users will ache from its faults, Nothing’s acceptability will accept taken a hit, and it needs to do aggregate it can to adjustment it. Security problems and abstracts hacks aren’t uncommon, and brands accept recovered from far worse situations. Still, Nothing Chats was an accidental accident acutely taken mainly to allure headlines, and it’s abominable the aggregation didn’t appraise the app added deeply, abnormally as it was (and still is) advertised as actuality secure.

The aggregation becoming a lot of amicableness with a cord of abundant amount and ample products, starting out with the Ear 1 earbuds and, added recently, with the Nothing Phone 2 itself. But Nothing Chats is a astringent misstep. Recently, Nothing has launched Nothing Beer and Nothing Apparel, ambagious articles that don’t assume to capitalize on the brand’s ability or represent its amount business. People can avoid clothes and beer if they don’t appetite them but are beneath accommodating to balloon austere software aegis flaws from a technology aggregation that went disregarded until third-party assay afterwards release.

Text taken from Nothing's website claiming the Nothing Chats app is secure.Text taken from Nothing’s website claiming the Nothing Chats app is secure Nothing

We need to assurance the software on our phones, and the Nothing Chats blooper won’t advice body assurance in NothingOS or any of its pre-bundled apps. It’s absurd to advice Sunbird abundant either, should its own app anytime reappear. Nothing claims it will fix Nothing Chats, suggesting it will re-release it in the future, but it’s ambiguous whether this is a acceptable idea. It may be bigger for Nothing to adjustment its acceptability in added ways. Whatever happens, analysis over Nothing’s software will be heightened, and its assets may be bigger active elsewhere.

Is Nothing Chats the affliction app of 2023? It’s absolutely activity to be up there, but what Nothing and its business aggregation do abutting could still stop it from actuality a complete reputational adversity for the still-young company.

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